A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

Books like this are EXACTLY what remind me of why the fantasy genre has always been, and will always be, my favorite genre. The people that told me that this was slow must have been reading a different book! And besides, good fantasy doesn’t always have to be some rip-roaring adventure, where the hero is slaying a dragon and huge wars are fought. No, they can be on a smaller scale with smaller battles with magic that isn’t that flashy and that has limits. There doesn’t always have to be a heroine that is in need of saving. No I think I got exactly what I needed in this book.

From the moment I found out what the premise of this book was, I immediately knew I was going to like it. Two of my favorite things in the entire universe are London and magic and there happens to be not one, but four London’s in the book!  They can be reached by magical dimension travel that only few can do.  Kell, one of the main characters, is an Antari, one of the last travelers who is able to go between worlds and belongs, to the best of his knowledge, to Red London. The royal family has taken him in as their ward and while he knows that he is treated like family, that he doesn’t really belong. However, that doesn’t have any effect on his brotherly relationship with Rhy, crown prince of Red London.  The other main character, Lila, may just be one of my new favorites of all time. She is so tough and completely unapologetic about it. She’s lived a hard life on the streets of Gray London and has learned that the only person you can trust is yourself. After accidentally stumbling into Kell, and possibly stealing from him, she is quickly introduced into a world of magic and different worlds with adventures that she could have only dreamed of. From the moment that Kell comes back to save her that first time, the two form a sort of bond, with neither one of them quite willing to give the other up.

Lastly, for those of you who are picking this up as some sort of light-hearted fantasy, you might want to think again. Yes, there are funny and quirky moments between characters and there is beauty in learning about the different London’s but there are a LOT of dark and ruthless characters in this book—Lila being one of them. There is blood, and there is killing, and there is torture. I wouldn’t say it’s over used but it is there and at times, it can be gruesome. Honestly in my opinion, though, it adds to the book. Sometimes what you need is something a little darker than usual. Real life isn’t always light and fluffy with happily-ever-afters so why should fantasy be like that all the time?

Bad magic, Kell had called it.
No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.
And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week.”

A Darker Shade of Magic Book Cover A Darker Shade of Magic
A Darker Shade of Magic
V. E. Schwab
Tor Books
Feb. 4th, 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.

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