There is Grey London, an un-magical and altogether boring place. There is Red London, a magical and thriving city full of whimsy and life. There is White London, a corrupt and darkly powerful city ruled by ruthless twins. And then there is Kell, a young man and resident of Red London. He is one of the remaining few who possesses the power required to travel between these worlds.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.
Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab was one of those books that you closed and immediately started devising how to get the second one (unfortunately I was in 40,000 feet up in an airplane when I finished this so there was no chance I was getting the second one any time soon).
This book legit checked all of the boxes for me:
1) It was unique. Traveling between different Londons via magical doors that can only be opened by magical blood? YES, PLEASE.
2) It was magical. Have I mentioned that this book had magic in it? MOAR MAGIC PLZ.
3) There is a hint of love! This book actually has a sweet (and not overwhelming/plot-sucking) budding romance! YAY!
4) There is epic adventure! And battles! And magic! And power! And cruelty! And trinkets! And whimsy! And thieving! And corruption! And ships! And murder! And lots of interesting eyes!
5) Awesome names. Nothing makes you feel like you’re in a fantasy world like slightly-odd names: Rhy, Kell, Athos, Astrid, Holland and MORE.
6) It’s a series, BUT THE BOOK ACTUALLY ENDS WELL. Ohmygoodness I can’t even express how happy it makes me when books in a series can stand on its own. This book gets summed up, and you’re not left with some humongous cliffhanger that just makes you angry. Granted, I still desperately want to read the next one because kdfjlskdf I just loved the world and characters.
Good news folks: The second book (A Gathering of Shadows) is already out.
Even better news folks: the third and final book (A Conjuring of Light) is coming out next year and already has a cover so we’ve got things we can stare at while we patiently wait.
Duh, because magic.
If you’ve read this I would desperately love to discuss with you my thoughts about Lila. If you haven’t read this I would desperately love to convince you to read it so that I could then discuss my thoughts with you about Lila.