A Darker Shade Of Magic | Book Review

a darker shade of magic review


“If red was the colour of magic in balance – of harmony between power and humanity – then black was the colour of magic without balance, without order, without restraint”


Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

“Some thought magic came from the mind, others the soul, or the heart or the will. But Kell knew it came from the blood.”

Oft, what a journey! I have just finished A Darker Shade Of Magic and I can attest it’s every bit as good as all the hype! V.E.Schwab writes a vivid fantasy world in beautiful prose, filled with real, complex characters.

“Magic was a truly beautiful disease. But only when the hosts were strong enough. Pure enough. The people here were not”


I adored Kell’s character, he is a thrilling narrator who sees the world (or worlds) for what they are truly like. Kell is very much the wallflower, who hasn’t quite found his place in the world. Schwab has cleverly written Kell so you have enough information about who he is to relate to the character, while still maintaining a sense of mystery about his past. I’m really looking forward to what the future books have in store for him.

“Trouble is the looker, it keeps looking till it finds you, you may as well find it first”


“The shadow thief they called her”

Lila is a mix of the everyman hero and the outsider. She’s the character I believe most readers will see themselves in, minus the whole loving to stab people thing… She craves a true adventure and a life that is beyond what the people around her aspire to have. Luckily (or perhaps it’s more than just luck) she quite literally bumps into Kell and the rest is history. I truly enjoy reading the Lila driven sections of the story, she is brave, witty and just a tad on the crazy side. You’d be hard pressed not to fall in love with her character.

“Lila knew how to use a knife, knew where to cut to hurt and where to kill”


Holland was my favourite character, though we don’t get much insight into what he’s thinking. Seeing him only how others see him, I found him to be the most complex character in the story. He is definitely jaded, and completey mysterious. A great part of this of course is because his actions are not his own. Despite that I find him endearing, he’s a survivor, and I have a feeling he’s going to feature again in the next books in this series. He also has those major bad boy who needs to be saved vibes and I’m here for it.

“Our throne is not something you’re born to. Its not held by blood. Bur taken by it. Someone cuts their way to the throne and holds it as long as they can”

The idea of multiple Londons held my attention immediately, and at first I was mainly intrigued by learning about the fantasy world itself. The characters easily draw the reader in and by the middle I was rapidly turning the pages to find out what happens next. A Darker Shade Of Magic is an exciting, extremely fun read and I highly recommend it!

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still”

“A life worth having is a life worth taking”