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

Rating: 4.5/5

Published: February 24th, 2015

Description: 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. But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. 

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Vicious is the only other book I've read by Schwab, and after reading it, I was genuinely disappointed that I hadn't read it sooner. That being said, my expectations for A Darker Shade of Magic were pretty high. From the detailed world(s?) building to its unique premise, this book did not disappoint.

My favorite part of the book would have to be how real all of the Londons felt; each one has its own sense of mystery and eeriness that set it apart from the others. There wasn't a single moment where I thought, "Wait, where are they again? What's happening?" because the Londons felt like characters in and of themselves that couldn't be ignored.

The moral ambiguity of the protagonists also made things pretty interesting. Delilah is a cunning, stubborn thief while Kell is a lying, secretive smuggler, and we love them all the same because they ultimately strive for the common good.

Even though the plot is unique and intricate, it's still easy to understand. The theme of alternate universes has become pretty popular, and I think A Darker Shade of Magic makes this complicated concept easy to grasp for readers that aren't into theoretical physics. The story also moved along at a great pace; this is one of the few books where I didn't feel at all bored by what was happening in any character's point of view, which says a lot about how great this book is!

The only complaint I have is that the characters seemed slightly one dimensional (no pun intended). However, this is only the first book in the series, so I'm sure they'll develop more and more as the series preogresses!

This book was definitely worth the read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fast paced fantasies! Also, here's a fun fact about the author; According to Goodreadsbooks published under V.E. Schwab are adult releases and those under Victoria Schwab are YA. This may be common knowledge, but this cleared up a lot of confusion for me and I had no idea until now!

What are your thoughts on A Darker Shade of Magic? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner
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  1. Great review, Annie! I have this one on my TBR and can't wait to finally start it ... it might even be my next read, I haven't decided yet. But well, your review made me even MORE curious! I only heard good about this book and everyone keeps telling me I should read it as soon as possible ... SOON! *jumps excitedly* :D

    Yvonne @ A World Between Folded Pages

  2. I have to read this one. I have been recommended this books something awful. Your review is just another compelling push towards it. Great review!