19 Aug 2016

Review - A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

Author: V. E. Schwab

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

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.
 
My Thoughts: 

I always found the idea of parallel universes cool. In A Darker Shade of Magic this theme is spiced up with magic and the combination results in a highly enjoyable book. V. E. Schwab’s novel is fast paced, action packed, funny and pulls at your heart-strings occasionally; all in all it is a good start to a series.

Kell is an Antari, a blood magician, one of the two survivors of his kind. He has the rare ability to travel between Red, Grey and White London, cities that were sealed off from each other after powerful magic consumed Black London and its populace. After a token from the fourth world ends up in Kell’s possession hell breaks loose and the Antari is the only one who has a chance to keep the threating wave of black magic in bay and thus save the remaining Londons.

He doesn’t have to deal with the situation completely alone of course, he has a badass sidekick, Lila. Lila Bard is the kind of heroine I cannot resist falling in love with. She is sassy, cool on the surface, but vulnerable inside and craves adventure. She is a cross-dresser wannabe pirate; what’s not to love about her? For me she came across as a much better-rounded character than Kell, but it didn’t bother me since I loved her very much.

I loved the adventure, the speed with which the story commenced, it drew me in, kept me excited and left me wanting to read the second book. It’s great how the Londons are similar, yet completely different, how the connections with magic define the worlds and I also liked that magic is a two-edged instrument in the story. All in all: A+, would recommend.

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