A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author: V. E. Schwab (also writes under Victoria Schwab)
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: February 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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. (Description from Goodreads.)
About The Author
Victoria (V. E) Schwab is an American author, whose mother is British and father is from Beverley Hills. She was brought up in the Southern America although she has a self-described case of wanderlust and spends time traveling, where she is inspired to write fantasy books for both YA and adult audiences.
A Darker Shade of Magic is the first book in the Shades of Magic series and came out in February 2015. A Gathering of Shadows (#2) came out in February 2016 and the third book of the series is set for publication February 2017.
I am so annoyed at myself that I waited this long to read this book because IT IS AWESOME. Just fantastic. Like 5 stars good.
There have been a spate of re-tellings and other pretty good YA/NA fantasy books recently but this book was completely original and so well formed. The world is so expertly crafted and it’s intricacies are well explained so that it is easy to comprehend whilst still being interesting and intriguing. The idea of the four London’s and being able to travel through them could easily become confusing but it doesn’t, it just feels right.
The characters are all great, with enough development and taste of a back-story to stay interesting. This is, of course, the first book in the series so I wouldn’t expect to have the characters laid out entirely and I definitely want to know more about Kell and Lila. Speaking of the two main characters, I’m really glad that we didn’t get a cliched romance woven into this story. It would have been really easy to go that way but instead we got a budding friendship and a connection that I’m sure will bring them back together. Too many books are going for the insta-love angle whenever there is potential for one and sometimes it just seems silly. I felt like this story stayed on course and stuck to the fantastical, magical awesomeness that it is.
A Darker Shade of Magic was so well written, so captivating and utterly engrossing. I can not wait to read the next one but then I know I’ll have to wait until next year for the third book! In the meantime, I’m going to read every other thing that Victoria Schwab has ever written because she is a damn genius!