*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is no way swayed my opinions.*
A Darker Shade of Magic is the book I’ve been craving the most on my most anticipated books of 2015 list. And fortunately, it far surpassed my expectations. There is SO MUCH going on in ADSOM and VE Schwab somehow manages to pull it all off flawlessly. The world-building is so intricate and intensely crafted that each of the London’s (Grey, Red, White and Black) have their own personality and feel like are their own distinct character. The way that Schwab defines magic in ADSOM is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The reader really gets a sense of the costs of magic and how it can affect the user.
The main character of the novel, Kell, who is an Antari (meaning one of the only people able to travel between London’s) is a very complex character. He’s incredibly loyal and while he means well, he certainly struggles with not letting dark magic overtake him at points. He’s charming and interesting and wears a great multi-coat ensemble. But it’s his companion Delilah (Lila) Bard that really piqued my interest. In her world of Grey London she’s a cross dressing thief and aspiring pirate with dreams of paying her debts and making a better life for herself. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and the her interpretations of the world contrast with Kell’s in a lovely way. She’s always in search of an adventure and she does not hesitate to live her life to the fullest, consequences be damned.
I would definitely hope to spend my time in Red London if I lived in the ADSOM world. It has some magic and smells of roses whereas Grey London has been drained of magic and seems rather dreary (similar to our world in the 1800’s). White London sounds pretty terrifying as it’s ruled by the most evil set of siblings I’ve yet to read about, and Black London wouldn’t even be an option. Given the opportunity, I don’t think I would be as brave as Lila who jumps at the chance to travel through doors to other dangerous London’s with Kell, knowing full well that she may not even be able to pass through unharmed.
Final thought: A Darker Shade of Magic is a must read and I have no doubt that it’ll be one of my favorite books of 2015. It has thoroughly explained magic, thieves, pirates, intriguing world-building, corrupt royalty and complex layered characters which make it almost impossible to put down the book (even when you should’ve left for work twenty minutes ago).
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. (via Goodreads)