A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab 4/5
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.
Kell is a parallel world postman of sorts. Using Antari magic, he can slip between the four London’s to deliver correspondance between the rulers of each. Kell has a fascination with trinkets from the different Londons, and smuggles different things in and out for willing buyers in exchange for trinkets and objects of interest to him. That is where the problems begin. Kell is set up, and is left holding something valuable that must not fall into the wrong hands. He happens across Lila, a wannabe pirate and thief, and the pair set off on an mission to return the item to the London it belongs in… Black London. However, there are some who do not want that to happen.
First off, Schwab’s descriptions are awesome. It made it easier for me, as a reader, to differentiate between the four Londons and the characters that reside within each. The concept was great, although it took me a while to get into the book with a slow paced start. However, the action picked up, and I was submerged into Kell’s world, or should I say, worlds.
Kell and Lila’s relationship was believable and developed organically over the course of the narrative. However, I couldn’t help but think of Kelsier and Vin from the Mistborn series. The name ‘Kell’ didn’t help either in that respect. Of course, there are differences, but there was a street urchin taken under the wing of someone more experienced vibe that I couldn’t shift.
The ending was fantastic (no spoilers), and I cannot wait to read book two. If, like me, you like fantasy, magic, well developed characters, and a unique storyline, then this book is for you.
The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties
All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman
K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review