I was planning for this review to go up next week, but I literally devoured it in less than a day. The funny things is that this book has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I would be drawn to it and pass it up for another one. It was as if I was trying to to savor it and honestly this whole book was a deliciously dark morsel.
A Darker Shade of Magic is an adult magical realism novel by V.E. Schwab. In this world, there was once four Londons: Grey, Red, White, and Black. Grey London is the world that magic has left, Red is where it grows in abundance, White is gripping any form of magic at any cost as it slips away, and Black is where it ran rampant.
As Black London fell, the other worlds sealed themselves off from each other and destroyed any connection to it. The only way to travel between worlds exist only in the form of Antari, magicians born with the unique ability to travel between worlds.
They are skilled at using the first and foremost element of magic, blood. As well as having control over the other four; Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Our main character, Kell is one such Antari who is employed by Red London’s rulers. The only other known Antari is Holland, who works for the bloodthirsty and ruthless regency of White London.
Kell has definitely put himself up there on my list of favorite characters. I enjoy the way that he was written and I am very excited to see where his character goes next. He has a strong sense of who he is and feels like a character who has grown into himself in a very natural way. He travels between Grey, Red, and White London delivering correspondence between the rulers.
One of the golden rules is not to bring anything back from the other Londons. Kell has never followed this rule and has amassed a collection for himself. Though that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have collectors to sell to like in Grey London. It is this habit that leads him into trouble with a forbidden artifact, a stone, from Black London.
We meet Lila in Grey London as a wanted pickpocket who just dreams of becoming a pirate. She is not afraid to use violence to protect herself. It’s this brazenness that leads her to pick-pocketing the stone from Kell as he travels through a door right in front of her. It also solidifies her journey through this adventure she has chosen to fall into.
It took me a little bit to warm up to Lila at first. There was just something abrasive about her. Then again she is a very abrasive characters at times. Though when Tieren mentioned that Lila’s one eye was fake, I swear my mind exploded into many different directions. For now, I’ll put a pin in it until I read the rest of the series.
There was also great role reversal in this story with both the characters flowing through masculine and feminine roles. Lila saving Kell multiple times was so refreshing. She has no bonds with anyone and Kell has this deep bond with his brother, Rhys. He becomes the character to sacrifice part of himself to essentially bring him back to life.
The plot was a little slow going the first couple of chapters before it really began to ramp up. The beginning was really about introducing the characters and putting every little piece into place. Once that happens the book is off like a shot and it’s just puzzle piece after puzzle piece flowing right into one another.
Overall, I would give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to see what the rest of the series has in store.