Publisher: Tor Books (February 24, 2015)
ebook: 304 pages
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Add on: Goodreads
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
Who hasn’t been excited to see this book? A Darker Shade of Magic is the newest, brilliant book by Ms. V.E. Schwab.
The setting is intriguing and complex. It makes use of these alternate planes of existence. Kell, one of our protagonists, has aptly named them Gray London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Black London is a taboo place that has been cut off from the rest. White London is a place where dominance and power rule over all, including magic. Red London, where Kell originates, is a place where magic is thought to live in harmony with people and treated with respect for what it can do. Gray London is where magic is nonexistent.
Kell is one of the main characters who is able to travel through the different Londons passing on messages for the monarchs. He’s a part of the royal family of Red London, however it is easy to see the relationship, though loving, isn’t quite what it appears.
“As an Antari, Kell was made of both, balance and chaos; the blood in his veins, like the Isle of Red London ran a shimmering, healthy crimson, while his right eye was a color of spilled ink, a glistening black.”
Lila, on the other hand, is a street urchin in Gray London. A thief with an overwhelming desire for adventure. There were many times when I, like Kell, questioned the wisdom of Lila’s decision and determination in seeking adventure via travel with Kell, especially when the overwhelming danger of the endeavor was revealed. But Lila proved to be the best partner for Kell and a strong character in her own right.
There’s so much that could be said. The richness of the worlds and characters are on point and melded together beautifully in this tale. This is the perfect read for anyone who wants to go on a magical adventure. This isn’t a story to miss.
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