A Darker Shade of Magic was so hyped a couple of years ago. I diligently bought the books on Kindle, but then for some reason I didn’t read them…I know! I don’t know why either! I’ve always preferred hardcopies to ebooks, but for a couple of years I mostly read on my kindle for convenience.
Last year I started buying physical books again, and I find reading to be so much more enjoyable. Also, in a lot of cases the actual book is cheaper than the ebook. How does that even work? WTH? I picked up the paperbacks of A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows in anticipation of the third book coming out next month. So, enough babble, let’s get on with the show.
From the blurb:
Kell is one of the last travellers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. There’s Grey London, without magic and ruled by the mad King George III. Red London – where magic is revered, and where Kell was raised alongside the heir to the empire. White London – where people fight to control the remaining magic and magic fights back. And once there was a Black London…
Kell is a magician/ traveller. He was born with a rare ability, not passed genetically, but that shows up randomly, allowing him to travel between parallel worlds. He is Antari, marked by one black eye.
From the age of 5 he was raised by the royal family in Red London, the London where there is still plenty of magic, and the world is imbued with a rosey tint, a la Paris (le vie en roses).
Although he has been treated like a prince, and is very close to his adoptive brother Rhy, Kell doesn’t quite feel like he belongs.
Kell works as an ambassador for Red London, keeping the peace between the monarchies of all 3 worlds , carrying messages. Only Antari are allowed to travel, and the letters are the only things permitted to cross with him…but Kell has struck up a side business over the years, exchanging trinkets from his world for valuables from White & Grey London.
On one of his trips Kell is tricked into transporting a dangerous artifact from White London, and the ruthless Leaders of that Kingdom won’t stop until they have it back.
In his flight from White London, Kell comes into contact with Lila Bard, an orphan, master thief, wannabe pirate and very adept pick pocket. When Lila steals the artefact from Kell it changes both of their lives and the linked kingdoms, forever.
It took me about 90 pages to get into this book. Normally, if I’m not engaged after 50 pages I give up. I am a massive fan of V.E. Schwab’s writing after reading This Savage Song though, so I persevered… and I’m so glad I did.
When this book clicks, it consumes you. The world’s the author creates are strange, exciting and strangely believable. I can easily believe that there are linked, diverse, versions of London, that can only be visited through magic.
I just started reading A Gathering of Shadows, and can’t wait for the third book to come out.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.