Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V. E. Schwab
Published: February 24th, 2015 by Tor Books
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
read in: February, 2015

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young adult • fantasy

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

The story is set in a four parallel worlds with four different Londons, each with a different history, ruler, and society. Only the Antari —rare people born with magic in their blood— can transverse between these worlds if they have a certain things that originally came from the world their going to. The book starts with Kell, an Antari that named the worlds with color. Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. Once there was Black London, a mysterious world consumed by magic that no one speaks of.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.


“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Well, this is probably the kind of adventure I’m dying for also! This book was so good in so many different aspect! This was such a dark, violent, and full of magic read.  The idea of the four Londons was just really splendid.

“There are four worlds,” he said. “Think of them as different houses built on the same foundation. They have little in common, save for their geography, and the fact that each has a version of this city straddling this river on this island country, and in each, that city is called London.”

The world building was really well done that I could literally picture myself inside those four Londons. Schwab really took her time building the worlds (plural) and it didn’t feel rushed at all.

The characters were also really strong built. We have the protagonist Kell —personal Ambassador for the Red London— that put himself on the edge of treachery by collecting things from all around the other Londons. He was strong and badass but at the same time a very complex character with a very cool coat that can turn to different types depend on the look he wants to have (that is just what I need for!)

We also have the adrenaline-maniac-adventure-seeker-girl called Lila who happens to be the tough and lovable —though stoneheaded— character that spice up the story by being a pirate wannabe and amazing at thievery. She will do everything to see different places. Making her as Kell’s companion was just a very good and fun thing to spice the story.

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice.
“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

This book was just unlike what I have ever read before. The threat felt very real. The fight scene left me tense because the story really has a twisted way to make me completely awed. There are no exact romantic details in the story, but you can feel the vibe between Kell and Lila growing in each page. Overall, this was such a very great and also first book of V. E. Schwab that I’ve read (haven’t read Vicious yet). I just can’t wait ’til the next book is in my hand! >__<

 But the things about people, Kell had discovered, is that they didn’t really want to know. They thought they did, but knowing only made them miserable.




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