Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (V. E. Schwab)

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★


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 wish I could rate this 5 stars as much as I had initially hoped, but 4 stars will do because with all the hype and recommendations I did expect more world building and more suspense. But as the first book in its trilogy, this is pretty great either ways. This is also my first book by VE Schwab so I was still unaccustomed to how she writes fantasy and develops her characters. 

It was very fast paced in the first 150 pages and somehow after that, despite the great storyline, I wanted to know more about the characters and those Londons, but my curiosity went unanswered. None the less, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The characters were great and I was grateful there was no cliche relationship/romance going on. I would have totally shipped Kell&Lila together but that would have ruined the book in my opinion. However I did find Lila benign and annoying at worst, but I got over that towards the end of the book. 

Schwab writes extraordinarily well, in that it’s very easy to get used to Kell’s world and follow him on his quest here. And this is a great fantasy book to start with if you want to get used to the genre. I would recommend this. But seeing how I’m not an avid reader of fantasy, I wouldn’t know how this fared with the other famous YA fantasy series in the market. But still, I’m glad I picked this up. I am more excited to read A Gathering of Shadows now! 


3 thoughts on “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (V. E. Schwab)

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