A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

Book - 2016
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Welcome to Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, with one mad king - George III. Then there is Red London, where life and magic are revered and White London, a city slowly being drained through magical war, down 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 - one of the last magicians who can travel between the worlds - acting as ambassador and messenger between the Londons, in service of the Maresh empire. Unofficially, he's a smuggler, which is a dangerous hobby for him to have - as proved when Kell stumbles into a setup with a forbidden token from Black London. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cutpurse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to survive.
Publisher: New York :, Tor, a Tom Doherty Associates Book,, 2016
Edition: First trade paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780765376466
Characteristics: 413 pages ; 21 cm


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SCL_Jenny Aug 24, 2018

The world in this book is really cool, and I would have liked to see more detail about the magic system, because it seemed interesting. The plot felt a little flat, but overall it was a good summer fantasy read.

Apr 23, 2018

This was a mixed bag for me. The writing by Schwab was fantastic. The way she writes fight scenes and her description of magic should be the standard. However, I found her main characters to be lacking. Kell was just a rip off of Han Solo, and didn't have much depth to him. I wanted to wring Lila's neck. She was every low class thief ever, with a bad, BAD case of "I'm not like other girls" disease. Why is wearing dresses and acting feminine a bad thing? Lila constantly shames all other women and it gets tiring very quickly. On top of that, she wasn't necessary to the story. We didn't need a fish out of water to describe Kell's world- he was doing just fine all on his own before she showed up. I understood the magic system- the travelling, the blood, the tokens, the 4 Londons, all of it. If it was just Kell, I would have rated the book higher. Holland was a way more interesting character. Why couldn't we have more of him? He had more depth than Kell and Lila put together. I hope there's more of him in the next in the series.
It could also be that my distaste of the characters comes from listening to half of this novel on Audiobook. The narrator was awful and made Lila extremely whiny and hackneyed. I would NOT recommend it.
Either way, the writing was superb, the characters, not so much.

Apr 22, 2018

This is an amazing book. Wow. Just wow.

V.E. Schwab is the master of exposition that doesn't feel like exposition. She has somehow managed to introduce complex worlds and systems without talking at the reader. Her dialogue is just as seemingly effortless. The banter between Kell and Lila was so fantastic, and when she formally meets Rhy, all three of them are just so great together. The imagery was fantastic and vivid. The plot was consistently intriguing and exciting. I was never bored reading this. I even read some pages out loud to my brother in a fancy British narrator voice and it sounded so great! There weren't any awkward lines or anything.

The magic system was so amazing and unique, coupled with the historical setting, this felt like a classic adventure story. The back blurb by io9 is so true: it truly does "[feel] like a priceless object, brought from another, better world of fantasy books."

Kell: He was a fantastic hero. He wasn't overpowered despite literally being one of the most powerful beings in the entire universe, and even managed to be relatable. Also, he's totally my bookish crush right now, like oh my goodness, he's so great, I love him. Can he just be real and also my boyfriend?

Lila: She is the strong female protagonist the world needed. She manages to be a formidable fighter even when compared to the likes of Kell and Astrid Dane (while still being realistically underpowered given the fact that she couldn't use magic like them). She is witty and smart.

Holland: Dang this guy was scary. I kept reading his voice and seeing him as Mads Mikkelsen in my head, so I think that gives a good idea as to what kind of a villain he was.

Rhy: While he didn't feature much, he was consistent and very real when he did. I loved his sense of humor.

Astrid and Athos Dane: These guys were so scary oh my gosh. They were like two evil Viking demons in stark white. They were so sadistic and psychotic.

This is a new favorite, for sure. I felt like I'd been waiting for this book without knowing. I never knew there was an A Darker Shade of Magic shaped hole in my heart until I started reading it. I am intrigued to know what happens in the next two books, especially since seemingly all threats were resolved by the end. Either way, I love this book and I'm so glad I read it.

katbee Aug 16, 2017

I picked up this book because I was excited about the multiple Londons. I wanted to know more about the similarities and differences of the universes. I found it hard to care about the main storyline. It seemed simple to me.

Dec 02, 2016

I adored A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab! I instantly connected with the main character, Kell and found the writing visually gorgeous! I didn’t have any expectations for this book, though it had been on my to-be-read for awhile now. However, I must have read something about the book that left the impression I wouldn’t like the writing and was pleasantly surprised when this wasn’t the case. I loved catching all the details of the worlds – yes worlds – Schwab shares with us. Most importantly, I could feel the differences of the four Londons and that just because a London exists in the same space doesn’t mean they’re not worlds apart.

The POV is split between Kell and Delilah Bard aka Lila, but I’d say there’s more POV chapters with Kell. For this reason, I consider Kell the main protagonist and it was huge for me to instantly connect with him. I connect better with female protagonists and so prefer reading books with them. I was thinking to myself why was it so easy to connect with him and came to the conclusion that maybe I’ve never come across one that was believable to me. As well, when the POV’s change I can definitely read a difference in character when it comes to dialogue and thoughts. This can be difficult to attain because of that lingering similarity between character voices. Schwab is exceptional at writing relatable characters.

In this book there exists four worlds Kell can travel to, though we only experience three of them: Red London, White London and Grey London as Black London was thought to be destroyed a long time ago. These colours haven’t been chosen randomly and the reader experiences that. Through Kell and Lila, I could really see the differences and learned the importance of remembering each London is vastly distinct. I have to be honest, White London seems like a very scary and bleak place to live, even when compared to Grey London, a world without magic.

Kell is an Antari, a world jumper or magician able to travel between worlds and belongs to Red London. The only other Antari in existence is Holland, who comes from White London and their relationship is strained, both having dangerous secrets of their own. I loved that in this book, magic comes with a price and Antari must sacrifice blood and pain when world jumping. Another intriguing fact, these worlds exist on top of each other so when traveling to White London, you must already be in Red London. If you want to go to Grey London, you must be in Red. You can’t travel to Black London from Grey or Red, you need to be in White. This made the plot all the more difficult for Kell and Lila and interesting for the reader.

I can’t wait to pick up the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows and find out what’s next for Kell and Lila. Schwab is a master of secrets, so I hope one particular piece of foreshadowing I picked up on is revealed in book #2. There’s a lot of dark elements in A Darker Shade of Magic and I loved every moment of it! I recommend this title to readers wanting a darker fantasy, with incredibly original worlds and intricate characters.


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Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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