A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor (25th Feb 2015)
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Format/Source: Hardback (purchased)
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. 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.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
So, for someone who loves YA fantasy, I thought I would find out what’s the deal with Victoria/V. E. Schwab’s books. Lucky for me, I found a beautiful hardback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic at a book sale for only MYR5! (And some other gems too. But the prize of the day was A Darker Shade of Magic, obviously)
Going into A Darker Shade of Magic, I had low expectations, of course. Mainly because it was my first book by Schwab so I didn’t know what to expect and then again, I did expect something from the book, seeing that it appealed to so many of my friends who love fantasy.
“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”
Here’s the DL: A Darker Shade of Magic follows the story of Kell, who is an Antari, which means he can wield blood magic and control elements around him. (If my memory serves me right!) Let’s just say that he’s an all-around good guy with magical abilities and a fancy-as-fuck coat. I really don’t wish to spoil anything for you because you have to read A Darker Shade of Magic because it’s got magic, a sassy, badass heroine and a prince who knows that he’s too charming for his own good.
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
I loved the idea of different Londons in the book, which were so well-explored. I felt that it added texture to the world building which was exquisite. In A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell is one of the last remaining Antari, besides this older, snappy dude called Holland, which means they can travel across Londons. How neat is that? Obviously I was talking about Kell. No one likes Holland.
“Looking for trouble, he’d say. You’re gonna look til you find it.
Trouble is the looker, she’d answer. It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.
Why do you want to die?
I don’t, she’d say. I just want to live.”
The writing was just incredible. I think it’s just amazing how Schwab is a masterful wordsmith. Every word, every thought, every nuance was written with precision and that gave her characters and worlds so much depth. My favourite character had to be Delilah Bard because shut the front door and feed me cookies, I loved her because she never failed to surprise me. One slight issue I had with the book though. I didn’t get enough of Rhy, the silver-tongued prince. I am really hoping that he’ll have a bigger part in A Gathering of Shadows because I just loved his naughty jibes and effortless charm.
“Some people steal to stay alive, and some steal to feel alive. Simple as that.”
I liked that the ending was tied up pretty well and it didn’t end with a cliffhanger because God forbid them. Cliffhangers are the worst but then again, it’s a clever device to keep the readers hooked. That being said, if you’re afraid of cliffhangers, fret not. A Darker Shade of Magic doesn’t end with someone dying. Or does it?
Another thing that made A Darker Shade of Magic so enjoyable was that Schwab actually created a language used by the Arnesians. And it’s just so creative and if I had the chance to meet her, I’d love to ask her about it.
“As Athera. To grow.
As Pyrata. To burn.
As Illumae. To light.
As Orense. To open.
As Anase. To dispel.
As Hasari. To heal.
As Travars. To travel.”
A Darker Shade of Magic is a marvel of a book and I could only praise Schwab for writing a book that has so many layers for the readers to sieve through and incredibly written action scenes that kept me flipping the pages faster than I can read them. Also, I might have developed a crush on a red-haired, frowny (is that a word?) yet handsome as hell magic dude who has a super suave coat.
Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? I’d love to discuss with you if you have! On to A Gathering of Shadows!