Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Position: Book One in A Darker Shade of Magic
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.
Everyone was raving about this book before I read it, as well as having a general “Victoria/V.E. Schwab rocks” attitude, and I wanted to love this book as much as everyone else. I did enjoy this book, but because I didn’t love it, it made it seem like it was less impressive than it was.
Grey London (Lila Bard)
I think the main reason I didn’t care for this book that much is because I didn’t care all that much for one of the main characters, Lila. You would think that I’d love the awesome, kickass female thief and pirate-wannabe, but she seemed too kickass. Most of the time, she would ignore common sense in favor of adventures that weren’t that interesting to me. She was obsessed with weapons and fighting and stealing and being a lone wolf. It got tiresome, and it seemed like she was a Strong Female Character rather than the fully-developed and unique character that I wanted.
Red London (Kell & Magic)
I prefered Kell, as well as his world of magic. He had his dumb moments as well, but he knew so much more than Lila, and as a result, it seemed like he was more savvy about being in this story than Lila’s character ever could be. I wanted to know more about his relationships, like with his adopted brother, the prince, and his old tutor or whatever the official title, but unfortunately the relationships came in second to all the action and magic.
Black London (The Plot)
It was a lot of running around and trying to get through each world so that they could get rid of the Big Bad Magical Thing that was causing problems. It got off to a bit of a slow start as the various characters and worlds were introduced, but it still felt a bit overwhelming at the very beginning.
White London (The Antagonists)
The main, active antagonists were a brother-sister set who ruled over their own London with a terrifying, cruel hand. They were interesting, and I would have loved to learn more about their story and get into their psyche a bit. The main reason they seemed to be so heartless was because they grew up in a heartless world where you had to be tough or lose everything, but I wanted a more personal reason than “our world sucks so we’re bad people.” I just wanted a little more.
I know I sounded like I didn’t like this book much at all, but I did. I mean, I gave it 3.5 stars and I added the sequel to Goodreads. The main reason for my less-than-thrilled reaction is because I’m not raving over this book like so many other people, and that made me sad. So, I hope you love this book, but even if you don’t, you can join me in the “hey, that was a pretty decent book” club.