A Darker Shade of Magic – VE Schwab ****


Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

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’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

This book has some great characters. Not just the main characters. The side and minor characters were pretty amazing too. They were never just names, all of them were fleshed out to a certain point, all of them got their moment in the spotlight. Together they made a solid cast.

I adored Lila. She’s a bit headstrong but loyal and kind. She’s determined to build herself a future. She wants to own a ship and she picks pockets to finance that dream. In Victorian London, women are supposed to swoon for rich men and depend on them for a good life but Lila wants none of that. She’s her own person and I appreciated her so much for that.

Then there’s Kell. I don’t know how it happened but I suddenly realised that I had fallen in love with this character. Seriously, I don’t know what makes me love him so much, only that I do. He has a bit of a tragic past (of which he remembers nothing) and has been adopted by the royal family of Red London but he doesn’t feel like he belongs there or doesn’t feel like he’s on the same level as the prince, Rhy. Rhy sees Kell as his brother but Kell either thinks he doesn’t deserve that love or feels as if the king and queen don’t look at him the same way they look at their son. I mean, I get it.. it must be tough.

There are four different/parallel Londons in this book. Each one described as a colour by Kell. Grey London is our world as we know it but in Victorian times. Red London is named after the colour of their equivalent of the Thames and White London is white because all the colour has been starved from the city and its people. Each London is so distinct and is written about with so much detail that it became touchable. I could see myself walking through the city, running my fingers along the walls of the houses, whether I found myself in grey, red or white London.

The story has a very good buildup. Starting off slow, we get to know the main characters. We learn about their lifestyles and what makes them tick. Then the worlds collide, characters develop, mayhem ensues..

The only thing that bothered me a bit was the ending. It all happened very quickly. The main confrontation is over before you know it.
Maybe that’s just because I was enjoying the story so much and I wanted it to keep going so that I could keep reading.

I read this book right after I finished ‘Passenger’ by Alexandra Bracken. Two books about travel, both not in the conventional way and still completely different from one another. These books are so much fun! And lucky me, I only have to wait a couple more days before the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows comes out.

(Also, apparently they are going to make this into a tv show! *squee* Yes, Please!!)

See you soon!





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