Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

ADSOMA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by: Tor
Pub Date: 
February 24, 2015
hardcover | Source: Library
adult, fantasy 
Rating: 5_star_rating_system_5_stars

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 cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, 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.

Well well well, look what I finally read and loved! Beyond the massive hype, I always assume that adult fantasy will be inaccessible to me; I struggle with terminology and complexity sometimes so I tend to put them off until I have time to really give the book a fair chance. That was not a problem for A Darker Shade of Magic a.k.a ADSOM. I was honestly captivated from the beginning and could picture everything perfectly. The writing is crisp and detailed, enough to paint an indelible image in your mind but not so much that you are overwhelmed. I love the concept of parallel Londons and V.E. Schwab did a magnificent job of differentiating between them, making them come alive (as it were). I really liked the history of the worlds and of magic, and the idea of the pub present in every London, the city of London in every different country & world.

The dialogue was fantastic. The action was intense. And THE CHARACTERS. I LOVED KELL. AND I LOVED LILA. AM I ALLOWED TO SHIP THEM BECAUSE I DO (full disclosure after finishing the trilogy: I definitely ship them). Aside from that, I found them individually fascinating, fully realized, and got positively giddy when their paths finally crossed. They’re a good pair, two sides of the same coin. I really enjoyed their alternate POV chapters; the tone was pitch perfect and it was interesting to see magic through each of their very different world views.

I liked what I saw of Rhy, I hated the scary Dane twins (but oh were they chilling villains!), and I genuinely was invested in everyone, even Holland. I can’t think of much I didn’t like, and I’m honestly not sure why I waited so long to read this book because it has everything I love: magic, royalty, lots of action, secrets, long lost artifacts, intrigue, kissing. I was satisfied with how the book ended so I’m curious to see where the sequels will go (disclosure #2: the sequels are AMAZING).

Have you read the Shades of Magic trilogy yet? Are you waiting until the hype dies down a bit, even though I just did my best to add to it? Let me know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

  1. Jessie says:

    YES MORGAN YES! Welcome to the ADSOM fan party, There’s lots of feels and flails here. You will fit right in.

    You nailed a big reason why I loved this series — it’s imaginative but accessible. I love Schwab’s writing — her style is unique but it’s really vivid. Like you said, it’s so very easy to see the worlds of Kell and the Danes.

    YES AAAAH THESE CHARACTERS. As much as I can appreciate the technical aspects of Schwab’s writing — it’s her characters that always bring me in the most. I loved Kell and Lila a lot very fast — Rhys took a bit of time for me. I think until book two — but by then he was one of my precious bbs as well.

    The first time I read this I rated it 4.5. Then I reread and asked myself what the hell was wrong with me because hot damn this is a 5-star book.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this — and the sequels. Here’s hoping there’s another series in these worlds to come!! Loved the review and the gif set you picked!


    • Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle says:

      I AM SO READY TO BE AT THIS PARTY!!!! Yes, that is the perfect way to describe her writing! Honestly Jessie, it’s a miracle I even tried ASOIAF, I think about that sometimes hahah. Yep, I had to warm up to Rhys too, I wanted to like him right away but we just didn’t get a lot of time with him. Thank youuuuu! I am seriously hoping for another series in this world and I can see myself rereading this one for sure. So many things to pick up on!


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