Book: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)
Published: February 24, 2015
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. (Goodreads)
A Darker Shade of Magic goes so fast, you might just get whiplash from flipping those pages. The action is intense, interesting, and really well written.
The characters are deeply flawed. And deeply real. The are so unlikable they are likeable. They have pasts that we only get hints of. Pasts that have some trauma that has made them who they are. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series to see what else we learn about them. Kell and Delilah are possibly two of my favourite fantasy characters ever.
Victoria Schwab is an author I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I’m so glad I finally picked up one of her books. She is a master at world building. The different Londons are so cool. The magical system is different from any I’ve read about before. The languages she’s created feel real. There are economic systems and cultures, and technologies distinct to each parallel London. It’s so fulsome. I want to know even more. I want to dig in. This book is a complete story, wraps up in a way that leaves you content, but only touches the tip of the worlds she’s created. While satisfying, the ending also leaves enough open ends for the other two books in the trilogy.
Victoria Schwab is also a master at creating tension. And, she’s not afraid to kill her darlings. Be warned – a lot of characters perish. And they die just as soon as you’re starting to like them. A coincidence seems like it might be happening, and then, BAM things go in the complete opposite direction you were expecting. I read 150 pages of this in one evening. It’s that good.
I have to say it – A Darker Shade of Magic is some of the best fantasy I’ve read in a long time.
Have you read the Shades of Magic series? What did you think?