A Darker Shade of Magic | book review

A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: Schwab, V.E.
Series: Shades of Magic, #1
Format: eBook
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Tor Books
Original Publication Date: 2015
Genre(s): New adult, Fantasy, Fiction

In the year 1819, Kell is one of the last Antari, blood magicians that have the ability to travel between the four worlds. In each world lies some version of London, which is how Kell differentiates between them all: Red, White, Black, and Grey.

Kell lives in Red London, where magic is common and there are laws controlling it; the magic in White London is crumbling, so the citizens and rulers are obsessed with obtaining and controlling it; Black London has fallen, its citizens consumed by magic, and is a place no Antari dares visit; and Grey London is where humans reside, the world in which magic is scarce.

When a dangerous item from Black London finds its way into Kell’s hands, he knows immediately the danger it poses. He has to find a way to send it back to Black London—but there are other people more concerned with harnessing and controlling the magic, and will stop at nothing to posses it. Kell faces a dangerous task, so when he’s saved in Grey London by a peculiar human named Delilah “Lila” Bard, he’s forced to bring her along in order to save the worlds.


My friend Heather will be thrilled to know that I’ve finally read—more like consumed—the first book in the Shades of Magic trilogy. She’s been trying to get me to read Schwab’s books for ages, and I finally caved. My hesitation, you ask? The genre. Growing up, I was obsessed with fantasy. It was my escape from the seemingly unending hell known as adolescence. It’s been a while since I’ve truly enjoyed and really connected with fantasy novel, so I was worried I’d start it, hate it, DNF it, and then Heather would hate me forever. So…what happened?

A Darker Shade of Magic is told in third-person POV, mostly from the perspectives of Kell and Lila, but we also get parts scattered here and there surrounding other characters in the book in order to follow what’s happening before or after these characters interact with our MCs. Kind of like a ‘full view’ way of telling the story.

I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow. It took me a minute to get into the fantasy mindset and keep all the Londons straight, but eventually it all made sense and the action picked up. Once the main storyline came into play, I was hooked. Definitely your typical adventure/quest novel with plenty of action, suspense, and death. I didn’t find myself bored once the story really got going.

Kell is an interesting character. He’s certainly charming and smart and heroic, but he’s also somewhat coddled, makes mistakes, and is still in need of growing. I liked that he wasn’t a perfect character. His flaws made him more real and likable. Lila is just as flawed, and perhaps makes even more mistakes than Kell. Though she does come to his rescue quite a few times, she also puts them both in plenty of danger by not understanding the ways of the different Londons. I think what I like most about Lila is that she refuses to play by the typical female stereotypes.

The writing is also phenomenal. This is my first time reading Schwab, and I’m happy I started with her adult lit because wow do I love it. I’m hoping after finishing this series and maybe another, I can delve into her YA works as well. She seems incredibly versatile, and I’m excited to see what more she brings to this genre.

So, no, I did not hate the book at all. In fact, I really, really liked it and have already placed a hold for book 2! So, Heather, thanks for encouraging me to read this series. If it ends sadly and breaks my heart, I’ll just have to blame my sadness on you 🙂

You can find Heather’s review for this same book here.

My Rating

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