A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) by V.E. Schwab
I first fell in love with Victoria Schwab’s writing when I read her Archived duology
back in 2015. Since then I had been meaning to read some more of her books, particularly the ones written under her V.E. Schwab pen name. I’ve read that she was branching off into adult books under her V.E. Schwab pen name and I was excited to read about her venture into Adult Fantasy from the Young Adult Fantasy world. On top of that, I’ve heard some rave reviews about her books!! So I was so excited to finally get my hands on this one and I was happy that I got to read it.
In this book, we travel through four different parallel Londons with Kell, who is one of the last Antari (magicians). The different Londons are denoted by color which reflects the main characteristics of each one; Red, the vibrant magic-filled London; Grey, a London like ours that has lost all its magic; White, a London ruled by power and manipulation; and Black, the London that has been lost. Kell is an ambassador, traveling between the Londons carrying messages to each of its rulers. However on the side, Kell is also a smuggler…bringing back and forth little artifacts for people who are willing to pay. In Grey London, he meets Delilah (Lila) Bard, a pirate who earns for a ship of her own. In Grey London, however, he also stumbles upon an object from Black London that shouldn’t even exist…and this is where all the trouble begins.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. To start, of course, I loved V.E. Schwab’s writing! As I knew I would! V.E. Schwab has such a magical way of writing that absorbs you right into the world and makes it all feel so real. It’s not overly flowery, but it’s also not lacking in anyway either. Secondly, I loved the magic system in this world! I thought it was unique, but also V.E. Schwab wrote it in a way that makes the magic seem real and like it could happen in our world. Another hallmark of V.E. Schwab’s writing is how she writes her characters and I loved all of the characters in this book! There was not a single character that I couldn’t enjoy in one way or another. Kell and Lila, as our two main protagonists, are written in such a relatable and fallible way, that it absolutely makes you feel for both of them throughout the story. The slow-burning romance is also absolutely delectable! I am not a huge fan of romances in my fantasies, so when they are done right…I can hands down appreciate it! Lila is also a wonderfully strong and complex female protagonist, which I definitely have to thank V.E. Schwab for! She is ambitious, vulnerable and not afraid to speak her mind, which I can absolutely appreciate in a female protagonist.
The one critique that I have of this book is that I could’ve used a bit more world building. I wanted to understand the four Londons a bit better, particularly Black London. We get a few sneak peeks in this book, but I wanted just a bit more. I am hoping that we will get to explore more behind the four Londons as the books continue, though!
Like I said, I very much enjoyed this first book and I cannot wait to continue on! I’ve heard that this trilogy gets better and better, so I cannot wait to keep going!