‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V. E. Schwab is one of those books that’s hyped up a lot and I wanted to see if it was warranted. My conclusion? HELL YES IT IS.
Kell is an Antari, a magician that can travel through the four worlds that exist, but mostly to the four Londons: Grey London (magic-less), Red London (magical), White London (where magic is power) and Black London (dead). Kell works for the King and Queen of Red London by being the royal messenger who delivers letters across the different Londons. Kell has a dirty habit of smuggling trinkets across the worlds which is forbidden and so finds himself in a heap of trouble when he smuggles a magic stone from Grey to Red London. Dragged into this trouble is Lila Bard who tried to thieve the stone off Kell. Together they try and iron out the mess that’s been created.
At first I found it difficult to keep track of the different Londons – especially who lives where. But I managed to get to grips with it once Kell explained it all to Lila (*tips hat to Kell*) and after that I was really able to appreciate the fantastic world building. It truly is incredible and all the Londons are vastly different to each other magic wise that half way through I chided myself for getting any of them confused. I actually couldn’t get enough of what Schwab created here.
The plot was captivating. I had an inkling of who was behind it but I second guessed myself a lot throughout and that paired with the adventure through the worlds kept me on my toes. Even when I physically couldn’t read anymore, there was a need to keep turning pages. I would like to know how Schwab came up with the idea for this book, it’s so interesting. The fight scenes were so well written that I could see them in my mind as clearly as if I was watching them play out on a TV. Excellent writing.
The bond between Rhy and Kell is strong, and I’m glad it was. It gave a depth to the book and a realistic feel despite all the magic. Even the connection between Kell and Lila was deep by the end. Their bond is odd, and I would liken it to kinship more than anything else. Something is pulling them together but neither recognises it on a romantic level or even a friendship level yet. I wish there was more to them as a couple though, but there are 2 more books after this, no doubt they grow stronger together in those (hopefully!).
Also, Lila’s glass eye – I think she previously had a black one like Kell and her parent(s) gouged it out?? It could explain her having a sense of magic about her and why she was able to pass through from White to Red without the stone at the end. I guess I hope to find out in the sequel. I’m glad everything righted itself and I’m SO glad there was no cliffhanger. Thank you Schwab!
“Word of mouth was its own kind of magic.” – and I will be spreading this around until everyone I love has read this book. It is MAGIC.
You can get it here