Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: YA/Adult Fantasy, Adventure
Publication date: February 24th, 2015
Alternate Londons, dark magic, a crossdressing thief and lots of blood. V.E. Schwab completely sucked me into this novel.
A Darker Shade of Magic is one of those books that was incredibly hyped in the book community, and that’s why I was reluctant to pick it up initially. I have a history with not liking (over)hyped books, so I’ve been picking up less and less books based on the recommendation of people online and I try to go more with my gut feeling. However, I’m trying to diversify my reading this year, and since I don’t read a ton of fantasy, this seemed like the perfect book for me.
In this peculiar novel we follow Kell, a rare magician with the exceptional ability to travel between the alternate Londons. There is Red London – Kell’s home – Grey London, White London, and Black London, the last one being completely cut off from the rest of them. Kell acts as an ambassador between the Londons, carrying messages between the royal families. In his spare time, Kell smuggles little magical trinkets to Grey London, which has no magic at all.
When Kell comes across Lila, things take a turn for the worse. When a mysterious relic from Black London – a relic that should have been destroyed – reappears, Kell and Lila must do what they can to protect it from all those who wish to claim it as their own.
V.E. Schwab is a very skilled writer, that’s for sure. I tend to like really flowery and poetic writing, but Schwab’s style is clear, concise and she never uses more words than necessary. She knows how to create a detailed fantasy world without dumping tons of info on you. Her characters are flawed, multidimensional and well-rounded.
Like I already mentioned, the plot is kind of slow moving, which can make this book a little hard to get into. Once it picks up, the characters have a very clear goal in mind. The entire story revolves around this plot, which means that there are zero subplots. In terms of the plot, this is very much a typical fantasy book, and I don’t think it’s that unique. But the world, the characters and the magic system are so awesome, I would still describe this book as unique.
A Darker Shade of Magic was a very dark and character-driven read. It’s equal parts fantasy as it is a cautionary tale. I will definitely be picking up the rest of the series.