“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab
398 Pages

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.

This book was so much fun. I’ve been through a string of more depressing literary fare lately, so taking a quick two day hop into a delightfully crafted fantasy world was like venturing off on a much needed vacation. DarkerShadeofMagic

The gist of this story is that magic exists, there are parallel universes in which the magic has different influences, and the only people who can navigate the universes are the incredibly rare Antari. From that jumping off point A Darker Shade of Magic plunges into an adventure rife with uniquely crafted settings within a remarkable set of worlds.

The plot moves fast, introducing characters and jumping through (literal) walls, evils plots, and motivations at the blink of an eye. You have wannabe pirates, evil twin monarchs, a royal ball, a smuggling trade, and a magical coat of a million sides. It’s exhilarating to flip through and we’ve only scratched the surface of this alternative look at London.

My only gripe was that it could have slowed down. The main characters are fun, and got good introductions, but I would have love to see more of them past their surface level. Likewise, the side characters are a little thin could’ve benefited from additional fleshing out. But, like many first novels within a fantasy series, so much world building must to be done, so much groundwork must be laid that not everything will be perfectly explained and described. What I got was still a great read, and I eagerly look forward to more in the coming novels. Where do the worlds go from here? What secrets are hidden? What will Lila do next?

At least A Gathering of Shadows comes out in just a few weeks.

Summary from Goodreads