Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.
What started as a buddy read became nothing short of an experience.
From the very first sentence I was intrigued, which if you know what the first sentence is for A Darker Shade of Magic then you know just how peculiar of an opener it made. I can say with absolute certainty that I have never read an opening sentence that simultaneously captured my curiosity and ensured my love for the character attached.
I went into A Darker Shade of Magic knowing very little about the plot, and even less about the characters involved. That being the case I was ill prepared for the whirlwind I was about to embark on, and seeing as it is only the first book in a trilogy I’m probably still unprepared for what’s to come my way.
As for the cast of characters there wasn’t a single one I did not like from the first moment I met them. Even Athos and Astrid Dane were captivating and interesting characters that I wanted more of the further the story progressed. However I have to say that while I ended the book adoring both Kell and Lila, I closed the book with an odd attachment to Holland that cannot fully be explained. I do wish that we got a little bit more of Rhy in this book, but his charismatic charm was hard not to love. I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to my time reading The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and another certain charismatic prince 😉
While I loved both the plot and the characters in equal measure I have to focus on the magic system V.E. Schwab created. The way it is introduced and kept throughout the progression of the novel is simply like having another character brought into the cast. I adore when parts of a story are so fleshed out that you simply think of them as another character – some examples of this are the TARDIS in Doctor Who and the Impala in Supernatural.
I started A Darker Shade of Magic with curiosity and I was not disappointed. The ending was perfect, I could picture the ending scene in my mind as if it was the final scene in a movie, in fact the entire novel had this cinematic feel to it that I only just realized was there the whole time. The tears in my eyes when I closed this book (don’t judge me, I got attached alright!) were tears of joy and maybe just a tinge of sadness that the adventure was over. I don’t know where the story will go from where V.E. Schwab left it, but I can say that I am nothing short of ready to return to this world and these characters, if only to see what other sort of trouble Lila can get herself into.
DISCLAIMER: THE SYNOPSIS ABOVE WAS PROVIDED BY GOODREADS.