A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books on October 31st 2017
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult
Length: 416 pages Source: Amazon
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Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes―Red London―and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.
Delilah Bard stole my heart.
While I am a fan of excellent heroines, very few capture me the way Lila did. The minute she swooped into this book, speaking of her swashbuckling dreams, I was entirely on board.
A Darker Shade of Magic isn’t about Lila, though. Not really. It’s about Kell and the Antari who travel through worlds, and a bit of corrupted Black London that has found its way into his unwitting hands. It’s about danger and sacrifice and courage and stubbornness and Lila is very much just along for the ride. And who came blame her? With London in four shades and the chance to travel between worlds (let alone countries…) I’d have hopped on board as well!
There are a few scattered things I want to note about A Darker Shade of Magic. The first, obviously, it the incredibleness that is Delilah Bard. She’s a shadow, a thief, a fighter, and a pirate. There are never enough pirates in fiction to satiate me. Beyond that, she is just plain interesting. Her dialogue? So good. It plays at my heartstrings. For example:
“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”
My favorite line in the book. Possibly one of my favorite bookish quotes of all time, which is an honor held almost uniquely by novels by J.K. Rowling and John Green. Good company. I want to cut Delilah Bard out of the pages of this book and keep her with me. Glorious, wonderful character.
The second thing is the opening line. Although the first line of a book is supposed to be the hook that draws you in, I find that very few resonate with me enough that I can’t get them out of my head. “Kell wore a peculiar coat.” is one such line. It tell the reader so much and absolutely nothing at all. Who is Kell? Tell me about his coat. If his coat is peculiar, he must be too. H ow is he peculiar? How did he get this coat? … on and on it goes. Simple. Luring. Perfection.
Then there are the little casual bits thrown in all over the place – like Lila’s eye, and how did the stone really get to White London? Paying back Cella? Rhys and Lila’s future flirtations (this happens, right? Tell me it happens). I am so utterly enthralled in this novel that I am still wrapped in its pages and eager to learn more. The world building is astounding, the characters are delightful, the story is intriguing… as a reader, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
A Darker Shade of Magic Stays on the Shelf
This is such a no-brainer.
I bought this book on a whim because I knew a lot of people liked it and I really liked the collector’s edition hardcover that V.E. Schwab kept tweeting about. Not only is this story amazing, but the book itself is gorgeous. Fanart inside the covers, a full appendix and gorgeous layout… and of course, it’s signed. It’s de finitely a book I’ll read over again, and I can’t think of an edition I’d rather have on my shelf.