June 20, 2017

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

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

by V. E. Schwab

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count: 400 pages
Published: February 24, 2015
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Note: The first in a three-part YA series, followed by A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light. V. E. Schwab also publishes as Victoria Schwab.

My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"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 was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, 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."


"I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still."

My Review:

A really fantastic young adult novel about four parallel versions of London, each having a very different relationship to magic, and how one man is able to move between these cities. I was immediately caught up in the world of this novel.

Since the ending of the beloved Harry Potter series, there hasn't been any other contemporary young adult or children's series about magic that has really felt well done. I tried Percy Jackson and while I could see its appeal to some audiences, I didn't feel interested enough to continue. The same was true of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel--okay, but not my thing. I was surprised and delighted by how much I enjoyed reading about Kell's world and intrigued by Delilah's rebellion and mystery regarding her past. Obviously as an Anglophile, I love anything set in London and the concept of four parallel versions of the city was really cool.

In fact, I was enjoying the book so much and was so convinced that I didn't want to miss any minor detail in the storytelling, that I did something I rarely do while reading--halfway through the novel I started over again, just to make sure I was picking everything up along the way. My 5/5 star rating is high--perhaps higher than it should be--but at the time that was how much I was enchanted by this world.

I'll follow up with my reviews of parts two and three in the series (check back soon), so you'll have to find out how I felt about the rest of the series and if it lived up to the bar set by book one.

If you like this, try these other YA fantasy series:

Harry Potter, The Lunar Chronicles, The Red Queen, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Precious Stone Trilogy, The Illuminae Files, Matched, Uglies, Divergent, Percy Jackson

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