Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Publishing Date: February 24, 2015
Page Count: 400 pages
Summary: 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.
I'm ashamed to admit it but before A Darker Shade of Magic, I hadn't read a single one of Victoria Schwab's books. Not because I wasn't interested in them, but because it hadn't been long since I had discovered her books through bloggers. I saw nothing but good things being said about her books, her writing, the worlds she's created, so I was definitely curious. A stroke of luck had me getting my hands on a copy of this one from the library the very day they had put it on the new book shelf! So I thought, what the hell, I might as well start with this one!

In A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab paints a world of magic where there are multiple worlds that the main character, Kell, can travel too. He has a specific name for each of them, colored by the experiences he's had in them as well as their histories. Grey London, White London, Red London, and mythical Black London. In each of the worlds, Magic has existed at some point or still exists, though Red London is where magic truly thrives. And just like with many forms of power, magic has it's good and bad, which Kell gets a firsthand understanding of through his journey in the story.

The world being portrayed in ADSOM is amazingly rich. The descriptions and the language paint such amazing pictures of the beauty of Red London and it's magic, the danger and corruptions of White London, and just how drab a world Grey London is in comparison, being magic-less. There was character in each of these places and a real feel of what they were suppose to represent, even without clear explanations. It really truly goes back to the title so well. The focus of the novel is the darker side of Magic and just how far people are willing to go to give into their greed for infinite amounts of power, through magic and through darker means. But sometimes, the use of the darkness in magic can lead the way to light.

Kell was such a compelling character to experience. He himself understands the darkness that may be within him because of his specific brand of power. He's rightfully cautious where Lila is curious and just a touch greedy about magic itself. Their relationship was antagonistic at best but so refreshing to see in a male/female partner. though they come to get closer as the book advances. Which I also liked.

And Rhy! I wish that I could get more of him in the plot but the amount we got didn't stop me from enjoying him and his deceptively carefree appearance. There wasn't anything about him I didn't like. Also, the love between him and Kell really got to me. I love how important they felt the other was and they never second guessed the fact that they were family, regardless. I really look forward to the possibility of seeing more of that in the next book.

And Let's not forget about the Dane twins. Oh Astrid and Athos. So wonderfully dark and devious were these two. And creepy. Incredibly creepy. I don't know what it is but I couldn't really hate them. I think they were the perfect representations of power gone too far, especially in how they worked together, so I was just amazed at how nefarious these two are more than disgusted. Then there is Holland, who I can't think of without my heart hurting!

Overall, this was an amazing start to my journey in reading the work of Victoria Schwab! It's probably my first adult fantasy read (that I can think of at least) and what a first it is! The world, the characters, the intricate plot, I couldn't get enough from this book and I definitely recommend giving it a try!