Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic 
Author - V.E Schwab 
Publishing - Titan Books February 27, 2015
Genre - Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Adult
Pages - 400
Rating - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.


Everywhere I went, every social media app I logged into, people were talking about V.E Schwab. And so I gave into the hype, and as soon as payday came around, I rushed online and bought A Darker Shade of Magic. I didn’t know anything about it, this was a total impulse buy. But I’m so glad I did…because what a ride this book was!

When I think back to A Darker Shade of Magic, the thing that really made me love this book was the incredible world-building. There are four parallel worlds, and each one has it’s own London. Grey London is dull and magic-less. Then there is Red London, vibrant, full of life and magic. White London is cold and cruel and the magic fights back, draining the city and its people. Finally, there is Black London, a dark and evil place. Schwab creates such a unique world but manages to make it seem so real, and it’s so well written and detailed that I felt as though I had visited and experienced each London.  

The Plot

The plot follows two characters: Kell and Lila. Kell is Antari, a rare type of magician who can travel between worlds and control all elements of magic, even blood. He lives with the royal family as an Ambassador in Arnes, Red London, and travels between White London and Grey London, delivering letters between the rulers. But Kell is also a smuggler, trading trinkets from different Londons to collectors and enthusiasts.

When an exchange goes wrong, Kell finds himself with a stone, an artefact from Black London. Wounded and bleeding after being attacked, Kell flees to Grey London. Upon arrival, he runs into Lila Bard, who picks his pockets and ends up taking the stone. After Kell hunts her down, Lila learns about magic and the four Londons and decides to join Kell on a dangerous mission to take the stone back to where it belongs.

The Characters

Kell is kind-hearted and a very likeable hero, however, Lila stole the show for me. She is ruthless, strong, funny and an overall badass and holds her own despite being a human from a magic-less world.

I LOVED the villains from this book, especially the Dane twins, who rule over White London and are utterly ruthless and bloodthirsty. Then there is Holland. He, like Kell, is also Antari and is a servant to the Dane twins. He is portrayed as cold and cruel but I can’t help feeling like there is more to his story, maybe I just want redemption for him because he’s my favourite. 

The book ended in a way that tied up nicely with no real cliffhangers which I thought was refreshing, however, I still have a lot of unanswered questions so I definitely plan on reading the sequels soon! If you’re looking for a dark fantasy with travellers and a fresh take on magic, then I definitely recommend this book!

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