Book review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Four different worlds. Four different Londons. Blood magicians, a feisty thief, and body snatching royalty – just a few of the things you’ll get in A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is from Red London, a flourishing empire where magic is celebrated. As an Antari, a blood magician capable of traveling between parallel worlds, his job is to deliver news between Londons. White London is a terrifying, ruthless place where magic is power and people will do anything to gain, or hold onto, what little magic they can. In Grey London, a sad, colorless place with almost no magic remaining, he meets Delilah Bard. Lila is rough around the edges, quick to fight, and hopeful that someday she’ll be able to get away from London and become a true pirate.

Kell and Lila find themselves drawn together as Kell is tricked into an impossible situation involving the fabled Black London, shut off from the world because of a magical plague.

I’ll be honest and say that it took me awhile to get into this one. There was really an awful lot going on – not in a bad way – and it took me a few chapters to immerse myself in Kell’s world. Once I did, the pages flew by as I read as much in one sitting as I possibly could. I loved the whole idea of the Antari, blood magicians who can do just about anything. With a drop of his blood and a few words, Kell can create doors out of nothing, heal the sick and injured, and change the world around him. I look forward to learning more about the Antari in the book(s) to come.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Lila at the beginning – I thought she was reckless and took far too many stupid risks – I grew to love her toward the end. Schwab develops her character very well, showing the motivation behind her actions and giving her hopes, dreams, and goals. You see, Lila just wants to get out of Grey London. She wants to see the world. She doesn’t want to be stuck in a boring life, doing the same boring things day after day, until she dies. She’d rather live an exciting life, even if it’s dangerous, or even deadly.

Fans of YA and adult fantasy are likely to love A Darker Shade of Magic. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆