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

A Darker Shade final for Irene

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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 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.

(via Goodreads)

This book takes a look at the darker, more dangerous side of magic. Usually, stories taking place in magical worlds have just one or two seeds gone bad. In Kell’s world, however, there are very few people that he can trust.

For the people of White London, magic is a source of power and manipulation. In Red London, magic is revered and honed, but at what cost? No matter which world he’s in, even Grey London, which is devoid of magic, Kell sees the consequences that magic brings.

I love the dichotomy between the Londons and what each of them represents. There were a lot of power plays at work: Red vs. White London, Holland vs. Kell, natural magic vs. learned magic, etc. It’s a rich and complex bit of storytelling that keeps you constantly on your toes.

Kell and Lila are a really great team. While Kell is interesting, at times it felt like Lila was the one really stealing the show. Her personality, boldness, and fondness for adventure was endearing and fun. I also enjoyed the fact that there was no romance between the two. I suspect that it could happen further along in the series, but I don’t feel like it’s necessary for their story.

Overall, I loved this book. I can’t even think of any little things to nitpick over. 5 stars all the way! (Interestingly enough, the predictions I made last Friday were pretty spot on.)

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