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.