Release Date: February 24th, 2015
Length: 400 pages
Source: borrowed from library
Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.
After seeing this book everywhere and hearing nothing but good things about it, I decided I needed to finally read it for myself. Although I didn’t seem to love it as much as some other people, I still really enjoyed this book and will definitely read the rest of the series and will check out some of Schwab’s other books.
My biggest complaint about this book was that there were a fair amount of errors that I picked up on. There were several times where you could tell the structure of the sentence had been changed through revisions because one part of the sentence was structured one way and the rest of it structured another. For example, on page 83, one sentence reads “Kell didn’t realize how much he badly he wanted that drink.” As I said, there were quite a few errors like this which annoyed me.
I have nothing but praise for the rest of the book. I loved the idea of different worlds and different Londons. I really liked how distinct each London was as well. In the beginning of the book, I was having a bit of a hard time separating them, but once Kell explains them to Lila, it really helped clear it up for me.
The characters were a big reason why I found this book so captivating. The characters are really unique and different from each other. Lila was my favorite. She’s sarcastic and a total badass which I absolutely loved. Her and Kell together were great. Kell was a pretty good character, but I’ll admit at sometimes he fell a little flat for me. It seemed at times that his character was just there as a way to move through the worlds and to have knowledge of magic. Towards the end, readers get to see more of his personality though and I especially liked his devotion to his brother, Rhy. Some of the other side characters, especially the Dane twins, were really fascinating to read about as well.
One other aspect that I really loved was how magic was portrayed. I liked it being portrayed as its own living thing rather than something that is just there to be manipulated by and for humans. It added an extra layer of complexity to the plot and made things more challenging for Kell.
The plot itself was really interesting and captivating. It does take a little bit for the main plot to start up, but once it does, things stay interesting throughout the rest of the book. I don’t want to give much away because the blurb doesn’t give a whole lot of information on what the plot is and I actually really liked that so I don’t want to take that away from you guys. 😉
A Darker Shade of Magic was a really great book that had me captivated early on. With an interesting plot, great world-building, and complex characters, it has something that every reader will enjoy. If you like fantasy, this is a must-read and although it’s not YA, it feels very similar to a YA novel so don’t be deterred by the fact that it’s not labeled as such. I can’t wait to get my hands on A Gathering of Shadows and see what’s next for Kell, Lila, and everyone else.