Review of 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.

 I was intrigued by A Darker Shade of Magic, but it wasn't really on my radar for a book I had to pick up the second it came out. I recieved a brand-spanking-new fresh copy in my Owlcrate and it peeked my interest even more. I haven't read anything by Schwab before this, but figured if Owlcrate was choosing to feature this book in their first book, it must be something special. 

  • I am a huge advocate for world-building. When a story is set in a newly created world, I want to be able to understand what the world looks like, how society operates and how the world really works. Schwab did an amazing job creating the Londons. There is a lot of detail given to the history of the worlds, along with creating multiple Londons and characters.
  • Kell. He stuck with you from the beginning. The beginning of the story starts with Kell's jacket and you are immediately intrigued. "Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible. The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed."
  • Once I met Lila, I could not get enough of her. I wanted every chapter to feature Lila and when it was just Kell, I felt like I almost wanted to rush through to get to Lila. I am not sure why I loved her character so much, but she felt like a best friend that I could go on some crazy adventures with.
  • The whole concept of magic or the lack of magic in the Londons was really unique. I felt like it was fresh, new fantasy and enjoyed that I couldn't predict the plot. 

  • The only thing that really frustrated me, in the beginning of the book, was that there was no real plot. I was reading about this amazing world, traveling between the Londons, meeting new people and enjoying the characters, but I felt like I was reading a story with no purpose. It was about 100 pages in when we had a clear purpose and path. I needed that. I love the characters and the world-building, but I feel like I am floundering when a story doesn't have a direction.
  • Victoria wrote this post on Twitter. As much as I agree with her, I did realize that plot was important to me. It didn't really matter what the plot in the story exactly was, but I just needed a purpose.

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  1. Great review. I finished this book yesterday and really liked it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. hmmm i think I may like this book but not sure with the slow plot. i will need to check it out for sure though.

  3. I tried reading this one but I failed every time I did, I just cannot work with the plot. It's a bit slow :/ I'm glad atleast one of us liked it :) <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

  4. I'm not sure how I'd feel about the lack of plot. I've heard amazing things about this author, though, so I do think I want to read this at some point.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  5. I just finished A Darker Shade of Magic a couple of days ago and I loved it. I realize there wasn't much plot to begin with but I was far to engrossed in the world-building and Kell for it to bother me all that much. Lila was awesome! I really can't wait for the sequels!

  6. I heard so many great things about this book and I confess thatI'm getting more and more curious about the story!

  7. It's a shame that it took a while for the plot to actually pick up! I find it hard to get into slower paced books so I think I'll keep this one on hold for now.

    Lovely review, hun <33

  8. I've yet to read one of her books. I even own 4 of them... I was so happy Owl Crate sent this one. It's expensive to purchase in store(and also out of stock everywhere). So that was awesome. I don't know if I'll start with this one, probably Vicious. But I'm super excited to eventually get to A Darker Shade of Magic.
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

  9. Owlcrate! One of these days I am going to get a subscription to them.

    Great review! As much as I loved Kell, your right, there was something about Lila that you just love more.

    This is my first time seeing your new look, I love it!

    Dreams @ Once Upon A Dream Books

  10. Hmmm while I do fall in love with characters first, I do feel like I need a plot... I've put books aside because I felt like they weren't going anywhere but anyway I've heard good things about this one and it does sound very interesting.

  11. Your gripes are good to know in case I end up reading this book! While I do fall in love with characters first and foremost, like you I do want to feel that there is a purpose to their story, even if it's not a super high-stakes plot.

  12. I love a book where the author thoroughly does some good world building. It makes it so much easier to feel like you're actually in the book and experiencing what the characters do. Lila sounds like a fun girl and I share your frustration about chapters that have no bearing or consequence on the actual plot and story. I just read one of these books and was left wondering why i even wasted my time reading the first few chapters when almost nothing was of any consequence to the rest of the story.

  13. I like a New World book though its been many years since I have read any. It takes a talented writer to help a reader remove themselves from their existing world to something new. Like you when I find a character in a book I really gel with I want them to appear on every page!

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me. Reviews on Hanging on Every Word

  14. I really want to read this book!The world building and characters sound awesome and I've always wanted to read a book by V.E.Schwab.
    Great review Missie!

  15. This sounds good! I'm going to have to move it up on my list of books to read! Thanks for a good reivew, Missie!


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