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

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | ReviewA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

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.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse 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.

(Last Updated On: January 16, 2022)
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Before I started A Darker Shade of Magic, I knew that there was a lot of hype surrounding it. Everyone seems to love this book and the world that Schwab created. That’s probably why I went into this book with really high expectations. Sadly, I was let down. I blame the hype.

what i liked

  • Kell’s jacket. Who wouldn’t want a multi-sided jacket that you could store like an infinite amount of things in??
  • The idea of multiple Londons. Schwab’s world-building was literally great, and I couldn’t get enough of it. 
  • Lila-she’s such a badass character. I think she was actually my favorite character of the whole story. 
  • Schwab’s writing style, which was so awesome. It was interesting, because I’m usually drawn to really lyrical writing, but I appreciated how Schwab didn’t really fluff things up. 

what i didn’t like

  • I found it… boring. I felt like nothing was really going on a lot of the time, which led me to have trouble pushing through the book. The pacing was just incredibly slow for me.
  • When events did happen, I knew they were going to happen before they did. That’s right. I found the book predictable… which was sad. 
  • Honestly, I didn’t ship the possibility of a romance. I know that many people who have read this book ship Kell and Lila with all their hearts, but I didn’t really care for the two of them together. 

So, overall, I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it. So, 3 stars it is.

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  1. I feel like A Darker Shade of Magic is… kind of the bones of the story and characters? It does get built on in the next two books if you have a chance to pick them up. (ADSoM kind of dragged for me in places as well but I got really pulled in when I picked up A Gathering of Shadows).

  2. I know that there is a lot of hype surrounding this series and I fully admit to contributing to it. A Darker Shade of Magic is one of my favorite fantasy books and I take every chance that I get to scream about it. In fact, my phone screen background right now is a ADSOM quote. Call me obsessed.

    That being said, I do hope that you give the series another chance. A Gathering of Shadows really picks off where ADSOM left off. There is less world-building and more action because it builds off of the amazing foundation from the first book. There is definitely more of a structured plot and more action/suspense. I will say that there are some Kell/Lila moments, but probably not as sappy as you think. Their romance is not the highlight of the book anyway; they have bigger problems than whether or not they are going to kiss each other. (Plus there is another interesting romance that pops up in the second book too!)

    Tessa @ Crazy for YA

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