I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.
V.E Schwab’s books have been all over Goodreads and so hyped about, especially this series which has been on my TBR for the longest time. I’ve watched countless reviews of this book and I was incredibly fascinated by the premise of this story before I had even picked it up! So I purchased this on my kindle and got going. If you want to hear my non-spoiler thoughts about A Darker Shade of Magic, keep reading!
A Darker Shade of Magic is essentially about three parallel Londons, Red London, White London and Grey London. Our main protagonist Kell is known as an Antari, a magician with the rare ability to travel between these parallel Londons. There was once a fourth London, known as Black London but that was closed off from the other worlds when the citizens abused their use of magic.
Red London is where Kell is originally from and he was adopted by the royal family of this world. He serves this family and travels between these Londons passing messages and gifts to different people across the different parallel dimensions. He is armed with a coat of many sides to blend in or stand out from the crowds of the various Londons depending on his needs.
Red London is the strongest London and magic thrives there with everything smelling like freshly cut flowers. The citizens of this dimension believe that magic should be used in a cautious manner and is not to be used for power or strength against others.
Grey London is essentially our world in the year 1819 and no magic exists there. The country is under the power of King George III who is known as the mad king to all the citizens who live there. Magic used to be a part of this world, however, none of the citizens is able to remember it ever being a part of their existence.
White London is corrupt and is currently being ruled by the insane Dane twins who crave magical power. They are called Astrid and Athos, who enjoy binding and controlling others with runes, a practice which is illegal in Red London. They also control the only other Antari in existence, Holland, and actually go as far as drinking his blood to obtain his power. The monarchy is perpetually shifting and being overthrown by those who wield the most magic which just shows the corruption that this world faces because of magic.
Kell illegally smuggles items from Grey and White London into Red London and visa-verse, a practice which eventually gets him into trouble when he inadvertently smuggles out a dangerous magical stone originating from Black London.
Eventually, Kell bumps into Lila. A badass, tough-as-nails thief who one day dreams of being the captain of her own pirate ship.
Together, these two characters need to return the magical stone back to its original home before it falls into the wrong hands and causes destruction across the parallel dimensions.
I adored this book and honestly couldn’t have picked a better story to kick off my reading year with. I was sat on the edge of my seat the entire time and you honestly can’t help but root for these characters. This was the first novel I have read by V.E Schwab and oh my, she did not disappoint. I couldn’t recommend this book enough.
All the characters in A Darker Shade of Magic were so well written, especially Lila. She is probably one of the best female characters I have ever read about, I loved her – so much! Firstly, she was so independent as she didn’t need anybody to help her get what she wanted and had been fending for herself for years before Kell came along. Even when they were crossing over into Red London – she managed to do that by herself without the assistance of a famous Antari. Another thing I loved about her was that she always had a very strong sense of right and wrong but was still always in search of an adventure, not hesitating to live her life to the fullest – no matter what the consequences were.
Overall, I gave A Darker Shade of Magic 5/5* and I’m currently reading the sequel now. I still have such a heartfelt love for all these characters and knew I needed to pick the next book up straight away – I missed them! Victoria’s writing was also phenomenal as she crafted this world in such a beautiful way with no strikingly obvious ‘data dumps’. She had Kell explain the concepts in a subtle yet effective way which worked so well. This novel was unlike anything I have ever read before and I highly recommend you pick it up.
If you have read this book, please feel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear them!