A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic #1
Written by: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: February 24th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Source: Gifted from a friend
Buy at: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
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 cutpurse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then 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.
There’s this feeling I sometimes get after finishing a book — it’s extremely rare, and only happens when the book was a whole other level of intense and amazing. It’s this euphoric, wrung-out, disoriented stupor, and it leaves you speechless and reeling.
Well, I got that feeling after finishing A Darker Shade of Magic. And that’s the highest praise I can give.
Victoria Schwab originally teased A Darker Shade of Magic as “pirates, thieves, and sadist kings.” If you’re any sort of fan of her work, and she throws those words at you, you’re a goner. But then you read the synopsis (Schwab-fan or not), and you sort of side-eye it. How is this possible? This book seems to have way too much going for it, way too many good things in it — How? Why? What’s going on? Is this for real?!
Well, before you get too excited, let me just make it clear how many good things there are in this book, because the synopsis actually doesn’t cover it.
- (Aspiring) pirate ✓
- Thieves ✓
- Sadist kings ✓✓
- Amazing magic system(s) ✓✓✓
- Flawless worldbuilding ✓✓✓✓
- London(s) ✓✓✓✓
- Fabulous magical coats ✓∞
- Incredible characters ✓✓✓✓
- Amazing friendships/brOTP’s/nemeses ✓✓✓✓✓
- Ship potential (no insta-anything) ✓!!!
- Banter ✓!!!!!!!
- FEELS ✓✓✓✓✓✓!!!!!!!
Yep, your eyes do not deceive you. A Darker Shade of Magic ticks ALL THE BOXES — and revels in it.
A Darker Shade of Magic does with the fantasy genre what Vicious did with superheroes. It takes things we’ve seen before — magic, evil tyrants, world(s)-in-danger, etc — and turns them upside-down. Raises the stakes. Makes them new. This is fantasy at its finest — and Victoria Schwab at her best — and it is not to be missed.