Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V. E. Schwab
Synopsis: Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–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, ambassador of the Maresh empire, 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. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
A Darker Shade of Magic has been in my Goodreads to-read list for far far too long before I finally picked it up. I have to admit that the hype around this series made me just a little worried because the last thing I wanted was to be let down by another anticipated read. But, I have to say, this book definitely deserved the hype.
First things first, the concept. I loved loved loved all the alternate universes, all the different Londons were so intriguing in their own way and Schwab definitely did a great job in explaining how they all connected together. The concept of magic in this book is also really refreshing, it’s almost as if magic itself was a main character. It was a living thing, it both gave and took power. It was fascinating and dangerous all at once. And the whole struggle of ‘controlling magic without letting it control you’ definitely stopped Kell, our main character, from being one of those Chosen One characters who seem to be so much better at what they do than everyone else in the book for no reason.
I think I’ve complained way too many times on this blog about how much I hate romantic relationships that suddenly become the main focus of a supposedly action-packed story. Thankfully, this book definitely avoided that. Every now and again Schwab teases us with Kell and Lila’s chemistry. Those tender moments between our two main characters may be few and far between but that’s exactly what makes us treasure them. And, most importantly, Schwab managed to focus on the main plot of the book all throughout the story instead of letting Kell and Lila’s relationship steal the show.
The writing itself was pretty solid. The characters were vivid and the world building was fantastic. Schwab painted a picture of her intricate worlds without boring me to death with paragraphs of flowery yet useless descriptions. Now, this might not be a popular opinion, but I was kind of iffy with Lila’s character. Not that she didn’t have her golden moments, but there were some scenes in the book that made her seem, to me at least, kind of shallow. We know that she craves adventure, hell, everybody does. But what was missing to me was why she needed it so much.
So, given all the raving I’ve been doing about this book, why didn’t I give it a 5 star rating?
The ending, that’s why.
It was, to be honest, pretty anti-climactic. Now I won’t give away any spoilers, but let’s just say that the ending was pretty much like the ending of a Disney Channel original movie. It was a little bit too cheesy and a little bit too good to be true. I don’t have anything against happy endings, but after all the struggles the characters faced somehow it felt like an overly simple conclusion to what was meant to be a complex storyline.
Of course, I’m still not disappointed in this story. I loved every minute of reading it and I can’t wait till I get my hands on the next book in the series. For all the YA fantasy lovers, or for any reader looking for a whirlwind of a story, A Darker Shade of Magic is one not to be missed.