Published by Macmillan on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic.Kell is one of the last Travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes--as such, he can choose where he lands. There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there's Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne--a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, 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 the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see--a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a 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--and that is proving trickier than they hoped.
Recently I have been binge watching a lot of BookTubers and all of their bookish videos. This lead me to watching several TBR Pile videos and seeing how many BookTubers were reading A Darker Shade of Magic and raving about it. I figured I like YA and this is a YA author writing an adult fantasy book so I would probably like the book.
I immediately loved all of the world building that Schwab does in this book. There are so many magical places in this book and I couldn’t wait to learn more about each and every one of them. I enjoyed learning about all of the vast differences between all of the different London areas and what each of them could do and how much magic was involved in the world. Of course once you stop paying attention to the magical worlds you start to notice the characters that Schwab has put in this world, mainly Kell.
Kell is probably in his 20s and he has the ability to travel between the different London worlds. His magic is rare and I wanted to know more about him and where he came from. I did like Kell but I also had a few problems. He is our main storyteller so we see the world through his eyes which can sometimes skew our perspective because he only sees each on of these places in a certain light. Plus Kell doesn’t even know much about his own background as that was taken from him. So here we have a main character that we desire to know more about but really are road blocked on that path. I did like his character though and his love for the people in Red London and his belief that his magic was powerful but could only go so far in life. I highly enjoyed the grand adventure he found himself on but I think he needs to have a little more fun. Saving the world with magic is awesome but Kell could sometimes be uptight about it.
Since Kell could be uptight at times I was glad that a secondary character was also introduced during the book named Lila. She was a fun loving girl who wanted adventure out of life and something other than her ordinary life. She dreamed of bigger things and would do whatever it took to achieve that. I loved her comic relief and the brightness she brought to the story. I also think it provided a better perspective on the different London worlds because she was seeing each for the first time whereas Kell acted like each world wasn’t really that special since he had always had the ability to go to each one whenever he wanted. I think Lila will be the character that I continue reading this series for though. I want to see where her life is going and what she will do next. I also hope that her and Kell gain a better friendship in the second book because here they are two people on an adventure but I feel they could be better friends, closer than what this book allowed.
Overall, I really loved the world building in this book. While Schwab leaves us many details I was constantly wanting more and more from the world. I also really love Lila and hope she is around a lot for the second book. I enjoyed the adventure in this book but I feel it was just the tip of the iceberg and that there is plenty more to go. I also hope that in the second book we see Kell lighten up a little and have more fun with his powers and world. All in all a good base for what I hope grows into a bigger fantasy series.
I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. I also suffer from a wicked case of wanderlust, made worse by the fact that wandering is a good way to stir up stories. When I’m not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, I’m usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters.
These days, when someone asks me what I do when I’m NOT writing, I just kind of laugh nervously. But in truth, on the odd occasion I’m not typing away, I’m probably baking cookies, or watching BBC shows, or wandering. (See how we came full circle, there?)