Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted February 27, 2015 by lockhartbecca in Reviews / 4 Comments

A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Finished copy received from publisher (Thanks,
Rating: 5 Stars


***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***


Synopsis from Goodreads:


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.

My Review:


So I requested this book on Netgalley a while ago and was approved, but then I realized that it was only a sampler. I don’t read samplers because it just makes me want to stab myself waiting for the actual book. That might have been a slight exaggeration. No, it wasn’t. Anyway…. imagine my surprise when I arrived home one day to find a package from Tor containing a shiny, finished copy of this book! I was sooooo excited! I finished my current read and immediately dove into this one. And I am so glad I didn’t let it collect dust on my shelf.


YOU GUYS. Parallel worlds. Magic. How much better can it possibly get?? This book was so epic. I loved the idea of the parallel “Londons”. There’s Grey London (magic free), Red London (thriving with magic), White London (twisted remnants of magic) and then there’s the mysterious Black London (dead after magic consumed it and its inhabitants). The only people that can travel between Londons are these guys called Antari. There are only two in all the worlds and one is named Kell. I have a ridiculous amount of love for Kell. He struggles with his place in the world and being seen as more of a possession than a person. He collects things (that he shouldn’t be collecting) and hides them in his own private little room. This guy collects things like music boxes. I don’t know why, but that was soooo adorable to me. There’s just something about Kell that makes me completely obsessed with him. Maybe it’s his fierce loyalty to his brother. Maybe it’s the fact that even though he’s one of the most powerful creatures in this world, he’s still scared and shows vulnerabilities. Whatever it is, he is awesome and I love him.


The other main character is Lila, an ordinary human from Grey London that gets tangled up in Kell’s adventures. Lila was a spitfire. She didn’t take no for an answer and that’s something I loved about her. She craved adventure like a drug addict craves their next fix. I loved how badass she was. I loved how in place of family she found other things to live for. I loved that she never gave up. How many times have I used the word love so far in this review?


The magic itself was so cool and the world-building was incredible. In worlds containing magic, ordinary people can manipulate one or more of the elements. There were cool games for showing which element you had an affinity to and more advanced stuff to help people practice. But then there’s another kind of magic that only the Antari can use: blood magic. The Antaris’ blood can command the magic and make it do pretty much whatever they please. So badass. The world-building and explanations for all this magic was really good. I was never lost and had a firm grasp on how everything worked. And it wasn’t info-dumped either. Victoria Schwab did a great job of dropping little tidbits of info into the book where you learned without even realizing you were learning.


The plot-line was so well-done. It moved at a steady pace, not too slow, not too fast. There was enough action to keep me on the edge of my seat, but not too much to where I felt overwhelmed. There was calm within the storm and storm around the calm. The balance was perfect.


There’s a lot of brutality and death in this book. Victoria is not afraid to kill her characters off. Each time I was shocked, but each death served a purpose. She wasn’t killing for shock factor. She killed to help the characters grow. Every single tiny event that happens in this book serves a purpose. You’ll read a scene at the beginning and go “what was the point of that?” Trust me, there’s a point and Victoria is going to get to it.


You guys want to know about romance? There’s not much. There’s a little something going on between Kell and Lila, but nothing ever fully develops. Perhaps something will in subsequent books. Normally romance is a must for me, but I didn’t miss it in this book probably because I was completely enamored by everything else that was going on.


One last point and then I promise I’ll wrap this long-winded flail-fest up. The ending was perfection. There’s no cliffhanger. I was a bit surprised with where the characters ended up at the end, but honestly everything is really well tied up. That’s not to say that there’s nowhere for this story to go. The world is so great that Victoria could go anywhere. And I can’t wait to see where she takes us next.


Have you read this one yet? Were you as enamored with the world and the story as I was? Did you miss the romance or did it work for you?

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4 responses to “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

  1. Totally agree with your review. I finished this yesterday and loved it! So creative and unique. And yes, this is the way a series should be written. The story is complete, but so much more to be told about these characters and this world. Two things. One, didn't Kell read as an older character to you? I know he was only 21 but he just seemed so much older to me. And Lila seemed younger. I don't know why, but it was like she was a child compared to Kell, which is why the possibility of romance between them seems a bit odd to me, I wasn't rooting for it. Anyway, curious as to your thoughts. Second, do you think there will be a love triangle in the future? Lila's little interaction with the prince was pretty flirty! ~Pam

    • Glad you loved it as well! Kell did seem older. I think he was very mature for his age, but I guess that comes with the job? I mean seeing all the Londons and everything that goes on in all the world made him grow up quick. I didn't feel like Lila seemed that young. She seemed like she was around 17 to me. I was rooting for the romance, but I liked that it didn't happen. I don't know. I hope no love triangle. I think that was just the Prince's personality. I'm so tired of love triangles!! I can't wait for the next one!!

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