Title : A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author : V. E. Schwab
Publication date : February 24th 2015
Publisher : Tor Books
Genre : Adult | Fantasy
Synopsis : Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped. (Goodreads)
“He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time those points were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila still felt like a pin in Kell’s world. One he was sure to snag on.”
This book played with my head and my feelings. It left me shaking, wondering why I hadn’t picked it up sooner. IT IS AWESOME YOU GUYS !! WHY DIDN’T ANYONE MAKE ME READ IT BEFORE? It was my introduction to V.E Schwab’s work and what an introduction indeed. I had heard so many great things about it, so while I had high expectations for it -that it managed to meet- I also was afraid to let the hype get to me.
First and foremost, the writing is elegant in a way, with words chosen carefully and woven into beautiful beautiful sentences, and it also has a sarcastic undertone to it aka EVERYTHING I WANT IN MY LIFE !! Following the author on Twitter, I think how can it NOT be sarcastic, she’s hilarious ! Don’t even get me started on the descriptions, they’re so well done, very detailed without falling into the so-boring-I-want-to-claw-my-eyes-out category and this book couldn’t do other wise, it needed the details because the world is very intricate.
The originality of the world Schwab created is beyond what words can express, you’ll have to read it to understand what I mean. Here’s how it goes: There are 4 parallel universe, each with different geography but with one same constant in them: London. In the following order, there’s Grey London -the one without magic, Red London -the thriving one, White London- the one where violence is a normalcy, and finally Black London- the Fallen one. Or as Lila puts it : “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London and Dead London” and while each one of them is described on its own and its connection to the other, everything still manages to be clear and to avoid confusion.
There’s also the magic system. I. LOVE. IT. The thing about Fantasy is that it opens a door to a world with endless possibilities and I just now proclaimed Schwab Queen of that world. NO. DOUBT. She masters the ropes of creation a takes already set elements, makes them her own and gets something new out of them. Hard to follow? Let me explain! We’ve all read about Elements magic and Blood magic before right? So nothing new here. BUT the thing that makes it what it is, is the way the magic works especially what she calls Antari magic (Blood magic) which is the most powerful and also the rarest form that exists in those worlds. The concept of it is what’s unique. And also, Black Magic “Vitari” is alive, and it spreads like a plague eating on people’s souls, it has a mind and a will of its own and that is SO COOL. Everytime I think I’ve fully grasped the works of the magic system, new elements are introduced and I’m like “Nope, better luck figuring it out next time! “
Obviously, this complicated of a world has to have solid foundations to thrive and to do so, it has to do extensive world-building. Which happened throughout the first 100 pages or so of the book. In that first chunk, the pacing was so very slow but even then I was so fascinated by everything that I didn’t get bored *Applauds* but that first part is the one that took me the longest to get through. And once it picked up, OH LORD ! I flew through it and it messed me up, this book seriously broke me. It is SO FAST PACED, I died and came back to life with every new chapter. I think those Dane twins -the villains- were to blame fully for that, each time they were there, I wanted to crawl under my own skin and hide there forever, THEY WERE TERRIFIYNG. (Look at them uuh !!)
The characters being kick-ass helped a lot in the process of resurrecting me. Thanks guys !First of all they’re incredibly well written, all three dimensional, with depth and quirks of their own.
Lila is by far my favorite one. Remember how in a previous post I said I love morally ambiguous characters? Well, she is exactly that. BEST. THIEF. EVER. She’s so smart and her mischief is very funny to read about. Having to rely on herself for most of her life made her to have a very suspicious nature as well as excellent instincts which has come handy quite a number of times.
Kell is a witty, tortured soul kind of character, with this really weird sense of honor . He balances all of Lila’s craziness and sometimes impulsivity. I really loved him for his bravery and his will to do anything to protect everyone, even if he’s running towards certain death, he just goes for it and hopes for the best. The duo that they have come to form is amazing! Their friendship -which started with Lila stealing from Kell the object of all their troubles, duh!! – is the most unconventional one I’ve read about in my life. They bonded and cared for each other without wanting to admit it, risking their lives for one another and sticking together no matter what the outcome was.
Rhy is the one I wished there were more. The little glimpses of him I got, I really loved. He seemed funny, caring and very honorable and his relationship with Kell was endearing and there wasn’t nearly enough of it to stop my craving it. I just hope there will be more of them in the next books.
Also, one other thing I need to be explored is BLACK LONDON ! GIMME !!! But I feel it in my bones that we’re going to get a lot of it in the next books. I need A Gathering of Shadows now*.
*By the time this review went up, I read AGOS and DROWNED UNDER THE FEELS. The hangover is real you guys. I’m obsessed. (Even though I didn’t get Black London)
P.s: I couldn’t find the source of the Fanart, so tell me if you know
That’s it until next time.
Did you read A Darker Shade of Magic ? If so, what did you think of it?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.
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