Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books, February 24, 2015
Source/Format: Won, UK Paperback Edition
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 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. Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby 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 another world for her 'proper adventure'. But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped...
Going into this book I was already familiar with V.E. Schwab’s work. I’ve read Vicious and two of her young adult novels. So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely loved A Darker Shade of Magic. It was a fantasy novel that I enjoyed.
From the very first pages the overall concept is presented well. I loved the multiple depictions of London across varying worlds that had minor similarities yet were vastly different from one another. Each world was given a respective color, and I have to say that they fit with the descriptions of each place. The setting was vivid and I could imagine what the places looked like, and it tied in nicely with the world building, which was done beautifully. The parallel worlds seemed to be places of their own, but it all worked together and served as an interesting backdrop to the plot.
The story follows Kell, a traveler from Red London, as he gets mixed up with magic he shouldn’t have. I liked Kell’s character, and I could understand his conflicting emotions concerning his situation. Some of his actions weren’t smart, in fact they were downright reckless, but it was all part of the story and I liked seeing how things played out. Kell’s path crosses with Delilah Bard and I have to say that I truly enjoyed Delilah’s character. Her interactions with Kell were priceless and I liked how the two managed to work together despite…differences.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was the magic. I liked how it was thoroughly explained, the system set up in a way that it seemed to be a part of the world, rather than conflicting with it. The way it was written made it seem natural. The plot was equally nice and overall I just enjoyed the story. I believe that this is the first in a trilogy, so I look forward to seeing what happens next with Delilah, Kell, and the various London settings in A Darker Shade of Magic.