Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series : A Darker Shade of Magic (Book #1)
Length: 400 pages
My Rating: ★★★★★
As most of you are aware by now, Vicious by V.E. Schwab was one of my favorite books of 2014, so when I heard that she was coming out with a new adult fantasy trilogy I was on board. A Darker Shade of Magic is set in a world that has 4 parallel versions of London - Red, White, Gray, and Black. The protagonist, Kell is one of very few people who have the ability to travel between the various Londons. He works for the royals in Red London and carries messages back and forth between them and the other royal families. Kell also happens to be somewhat of a collector, even though bringing objects from one London to another is illegal. This is where he gets into some trouble. Kell ends up smuggling something in to Gray London, where a sassy thief named Lila pickpockets him. Turns out... this object really shouldn't exist in this world and there are some dangerous people trying to track it down.
As you can imagine this story has a lot of running involved (on roofs, out windows, between Londons), which means the plot is very fast paced. If you're expecting a lot of time to be spent on describing the world in detail, then this is not the fantasy novel for you. That said, there was enough description for me to be able to picture and distinguish one London from the other. Although, at the beginning I kept having to flip back to see the description of how the magic (or lack thereof) works in each one. Once the story really gets going, I had no trouble following where they were.
Beyond the imaginative settings, Schwab wrote some amazing characters for this series. First, as a pair, Kell and Lila are perfect. Kell is a strong, likable, hero-type and Lila is a street-smart wiseass. Sometimes, I get annoyed when authors try to do this sassy strong chick thing, but V.E. Schwab gets it right with Lila. She is really entertaining and keeps Kell on his toes. Having strong main characters is obviously important, but the side characters are part of why I gave this book 5 stars. Prince Rhy and Holland are just as well thought out as the Kell and Lila, and I loved both of them. Prince Rhy reminds me an innocent Jack Harness (from Doctor Who, you noob) and he's an amazing friend to Kell. Holland, on the other hand, is supposed to be a baddie but I found myself completely empathizing with him and even rooting for him at times.
All in all, I thought that this was an amazing start to what I think will be a great series. I hope V.E. Schwab is writing her little head off, because I know I'm not the only one eagerly awaiting more of this world. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys fast-paced stories with magic, fights, witty banter, evil twins, and magic coats.
Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? Are you planning to?