Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
This is my first V.E. Schwab novel, I’ve heard a lot of good things about her books but have never taken the plunge until now. I always worry when there has been a lot of hype that the book won’t live up to it and usually put off reading them for a while just in case but luckily in the case of this book, the hype was well deserved.
The concept of having multiple Londons but each in a different world and, of course, with different levels of magic was amazing, just everything about the worldbuilding was fantastic. It was so easy to picture each of the different places and I loved the little details like having to have a token to be able to move between each London or that nothing was the same except the one building which is always a tavern just with different names, it is just so inventive.
The one thing that suffers a little bit from all the wonderful worldbuilding is the pace of the book, I found it a bit slow to start it loses a bit of traction as the story builds. I didn’t mind too much because I loved finding out about the different Londons but I think I maybe hadn’t expected that it would be quite as slow as it was. There does come a point when things start to pick up and for me it made up for it but I know most people will have high expectations going into this book so it’s best to know that before you dive in.
The characters were fascinating, I already want to know more about them. Kell I’m very interested in, I loved his duality, he is enigmatic and mysterious and also seems to harbour a lot of angst about not knowing where he is from but also very good-natured and loyal. There are so many questions I have about him that I can’t wait to be answered.
I also loved Lila, that she wasn’t afraid or at least she had enough bravado and though it was sometimes a front for certain things, she was willing to get stuck in and could handle herself in dangerous situations. I liked that everyone kept underestimating her because she was a non-magical person and that even in a situation where the odds were against her that she managed to still have a lot of sass.
I have to say that I really hope that we get to see more of Rhy as the series progresses, I kept hoping he would pop up a little more in this book because I liked the cheeky and flirtatious but sometimes serious prince, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that he gets a bit more page time.
A Darker Shade Of Magic is just brilliant, I loved pretty much everything about it, the engaging writing, amazing concept, the worldbuilding, and the characters I can’t wait to find out what will happen next.