A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
Schwab has this way of presenting a story where you aren’t really rooting for the typical good guys. In A Darker Shade of Magic we are introduced to multiple Londons.
Grey London-what we would be familiar with, magic free (no Harry Potter’s here, sorry), where one of our main charater’s, Lila, hails from
Red London-a flourishing magical city with a red river, where our other main character, Kell, hails from
White London-another magical London that is essentially fading
Black London-well, let’s not talk about that place, because nothing good comes from Black London
These Londons sort of…overlap…so to speak. People used to be able to go from one London to another, but now only Antari (like Kell) can make their way with their magic to cross between through doors they can conjure with blood. While Kell is on a special mission he somehow gets into some trouble, bumps into Lila, and shit pretty much hits the fan.
The World Building
I loved the idea of these overlapping Londons. My favorite part about the Londons were their different levels of magic, and that even though they are all called London, they are nothing alike…except that one spot where there seems to always be a bar/tavern no matter which London you are in. There are different languages and even a limit to the magic that everyone has. Even when it comes to elemental magic there is a variety to it. There aren’t a bunch of people just moving water, fire, and other elements around with their magic. It just isn’t that simple.
The only reason why I didn’t give this book 5 full stars was because it honestly took me a little bit to really get invested into the story. It took me a good 25% before I was really sure I was going to keep going, because honestly, before that I probably easily could have set it aside and left it to back burn for a while. Fortunately I had enough people
pestering encouraging me to read the book that I kept going. Thank the Lord for that. Once you start to really understand all the London stuff and have all the characters established is when the fun starts. It’s original and exciting, and you never know what kind of sticky situation Kell & Lila are going to have to get their way out of.
You know what else? We have a handsome young man and fierce young woman for our main characters. You know what they don’t do throughout the entire book? Swooning for each other. It is so refreshing to read a fantasy story that was primarily driven by romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love those books too. It’s just….refreshing.
Let’s be real. It’s the characters that really make this book. I love the idea of the magic & world, but without Kell & Lila, the story would be boring. I love Lila, she really is such a hoot. She’s the type of girl that may fail or make a mess out of things, but doesn’t back down from a fight. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for those that are weaker than their enemies. She seeks adventure and is willing to drop everything familiar and safe to get it. I felt like Kell was so lonely, even with having a family and all his needs met. I don’t think he truly realizes it until he meets Lila and realizes what he is missing.
Now I am eager to read the next book, and ready to spend just a little more time with the fantastic Delilah Bard.