Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Bought
Publication Date: February 24th 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow
Genres &  Themes: Mature YA, Fantasy, Alternate Universes, Magic, Dark

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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.


“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Isn’t it astonishing how upon our second readings of our favourite books, we discover so much more about our beloved characters and the world-building itself than the first time around?

And so in consequence to my rereading of A Darker Shade of Magic in order to be fully prepared (memory-wise) for A Gathering of Shadows, I started seeing redeemable qualities in Delilah Bard, the fierce, courageous (yet reckless) thief.

When she and Kell—the gorgeous Kell, my sweetheart, Kell—had gotten closer on my first reading of this book, I damn straight wanted to chop her head off.

But now, my wish is only to smother her a little bit in her sleep—just a little bit.

Progress, right? Saves me a death sentence.

A Darker Shade of Magic is such a colourful book. I say that because there is not one dull character or moment in the story. Even Holland—yes, the poker-faced Holland—released a feeling inside of me… curiosity.

It’s a dangerous world—forgive me, worlds—Kell lives in. In Red London is by far the most agreeable place to live in, but the other worlds (or shall I say ”alternative Londons”)—Grey London, White London and (dead) Black London—are not as pleasant.

But magic runs through his blood, for he has a great purpose: to travel through the Londons for diplomatic purposes and to keep peace… He’s somewhat of a guardian to those lands.

Kell is incredible. It’s—and I mean it—impossible to dislike him. He’s understanding, temperate, calm, powerful and charming without even trying to be (he really isn’t), unlike his brother, Rhy, whom I love dearly but do not get to spend much time with (what’s with not including him in the adventure, Miss Schwab?)

Miss Schwab is a very skilled writer. What’s funny is that even though this is a relatively dark fantasy novel for (debatably) mature teenagers, it strangely feels like a fairytale, or a cautionary tale, rather. It’s just so… memorable and… re-readable, like a classic.

Love, love, love! To all fantasy readers who have yet to plunge into A Darker Shade of Magic, feel my wrath! (You need read it.)

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15 thoughts on “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab

  1. LOL! You’re not the only one who had a hard time with Lila^^ I don’t mind her personally but she’s not my favorite either…that honour goes to Kell ♥ I can’t wait to read your review for AGoS 😀


  2. I adored A Darker Shade of Magic! It was impossible for me not to like all the characters. I was left conflicted and curious about Holland; I must pick of A Gathering of Shadows soon.


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