A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
I picked up ADSOM because I have heard so many amazing things, and the hype around the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows (AGOS), was, errr, a lot. This is one book I picked up at Foyles Charing Cross in regular Grey London.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a really original novel, following Kell, a ‘Traveler’ who can move between parallel universes. In Grey London (our universe), he meet Lila, a thief looking for adventure. Both Lila and Kell are fresh, quirky characters, in an interesting magical world with its own rich politics and rules. I like London, and magic, and the marriage of the two was really cool.
It’s been a while since I read this book, but it took me a while to read – I was in a bit of a reading slump after Heir of Fire. I liked the style of the book – it’s separated into lots of parts, with short chapters within, so it’s easy to read a little bit, often.
I also loved how there wasn’t really a romance, at all, which is something I’m really enjoying in novels at the moment – romance doesn’t have to feature in every single novel ever, and it should only really feature if it feels natural to do so.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would (it’s been very hyped up), but I did enjoy it enough to desperately want to read the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, which sounds actually amazing.
This book is not necessarily YA – I found it in the Sci-Fi section of Foyles, so I’d say it’s being marketed as more Adult, but there’s nothing in here that should put a YA reader off picking this up.
Overall, a good start to a new trilogy, and I will be looking to pick up the sequel in the near future. (Also, the cover is pretty awesome.)
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Have you read ADSOM? What did you think? Comment or tweet me at @annalisebooks!