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There are four worlds, and a place called London exists in the same spot in each of them--Gray London (mostly bereft of magic), White London (ruled by a cruel pair of twins, magic and might make right), Red London (magic is revered and the land is ruled by a monarchy), and Black London (bad magic). Doors between the worlds used to allow travel, but now they are closed and only rare individuals, Antari, can pass through. Kell is Antari, born with one eye solid black, and he's been targeted by a powerful evil because of what he can do.
Delilah Bard is a thief living in gray London, stealing coins and trying to save up to get herself out. She's strong, smart, and utterly trapped in a grim life. One night she steals from the wrong person, and her destiny collides with Kell's. Together, the two will fight against the evil that threatens all four Londons, and everyone living there.
Schwab's world building is excellent, and Delilah Bard is a fantastic character. I'm so glad that this is a trilogy, because my only complaint is that I didn't get to see enough of the world, or learn enough about the characters. I'm looking forward to reading more!
I was intrigued by the idea of 4 parallel Londons that reside in 4 very different worlds with London being the only city named the same, even if the country London is in is named differently. I was also intrigued by the idea of Black London having fallen and the other Londons having closed themselves off from each other as a result. However, the danger that was presented in the story as a source of plot was semi-lacking. I felt like I would have rather read more about the different worlds and their cultures. There wasn't near enough of that for me. I also wished there had more of the history of magic, an explanation of how it works. But learning that V.E. Schwab also writes YA as Victoria Schwab, makes the holes make a bit more sense to me. This would not be a bad YA crossover. It is also nice that this first book in a trilogy could stand on its own. There are still some questions to answer, but one does not need to read book two if they don't want to, there were enough loose ends tied up that this book on its own was satisfying.
Wow! Just wow! Loved this! I am totally going to re-read it before I continue in the series. There was just so much going on that I'm sure I missed things.
This one has been on my to-read pile for a pile, and I'm so glad I finally got around to it. I love the fictional world Schwab created here -- this book is the first in a trilogy, and each volume delves deeper into this fantasy version of London, and also offers incredibly nuanced layers of character development. There are not one but TWO romantic subplots that are really great and in which I got incredibly emotionally invested, and this has definitely motivated me to check out more of V.E. Schwab's books.
Wow this is a really creative setting! I was intrigued the entire time about the magic and the inter-dimensional travel throughout this book. The characters and the plot was exciting to read and I already have some theories about what the next books will have in store. Can't wait to get them on hold!
Thrill-a-minute magic and swashbuckling adventure set in not one, not two, but THREE richly imagined, alternate-reality Londons. If Dickens and Tolkien had collaborated on an episode of Doctor Who, it might have looked a little something like A Darker Shade of Magic.
I enjoyed this book of magic and adventure. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good fantasy story, if you can put up with the author's writing style. The rest of the series is not as good.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s well written, and the rules of the world work really well. I love the idea of multiple Londons. If you like fantasy, I recommend it.
I don’t usually like fantasy novels, but I picked up this book anyways. (the cover art attracted me if I’m being honest.) As soon as I started reading, I was pulled into this massive world. There is so much detail that you can clearly picture the scene in your mind. Sometimes, however, it felt like the detail dragged on just a bit too long, but perhaps the detail was necessary. The characters are easily loveable and relatable, and you find yourself rooting for them from the beginning. The story is so unique and interesting, and has a great blend of politics, fantasy, and danger. High hopes for the rest of the series! Rating: 4/5
- @mae of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
Excellent world building in this thrilling fantasy about a young magician. Great set-up for the rest of the series!
Travel between worlds, a cross-dressing pirate, and a misanthropic magician. What could possibly go wrong? Answer: EVERYTHING
I'm afraid 'A Darker Shade of Magic' is what you get when your author has a number of interesting ideas but little to no desire in telling an actual story. The result is a collection of interesting ideas but a decidedly dull, empty story and world(s) overall.
You may detect the faintest echoes of influence from Gaiman's Neverwhere, Tolkein's LotR and Lewis' Magician's Nephew. The concepts of elemental magic, parallel worlds out of balance, confluence points and mundane items as tokens are also not new but Schwab fits them together into a universe that doesn't feel derivative and needs little further explanation. It is a minor detail hardly mentioning but Kell's multi-reversible coat reveals a lot about the author's imagination. Note that Schwab's subsequent books are published as V.E. instead of Victoria.
London during the 1800's is a dull, gray place. A reckless young thief named Lila dreams of escaping the city to grand adventures. One day she meets Kell, a young magician who can travel between parallel worlds. Kell comes from a version of London where magic is very real and very fabulous. But there are other versions of London where magic is dark and dangerous and Kell is in great danger. Sounds like an adventure to Lila!
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).
I started it but was unable to get interested. Characters and plot failed to make me care. Obviously I am in the minority. I am not the typical reader of this genre (over 50...) so perhaps for a younger audience the book would have more resonance. That said, I do like Sarah Maas and am looking forward to her next instalment in the Throne of Glass series.
The premises of a person who can travel between four distinct London's drew me in. This novel takes place in the 1800's when magic travel between these London's is extremely discouraged. In the distant past, one of the London's called Black London underwent a terrible ordeal where the magic started to consume the humans who tried to wield it. Since this, the doors between the London's have been closed. The only one's allowed to travel between the worlds are powerful magicians called Travellers. When we first meet Kell, he has traveled to Grey London (the unmagical world) to deliver a message from his own rulers of Red London to King George the 3rd and Prince Regent. The existence of other London's, as we learn is a closely guarded secret that only the rulers know. We follow Kell from Grey to Red London (the magical one), to the ominous White London who makes Hitler and Vlad the Impaler look nice. At the same time. we meet a young thief of Grey London name Lila Bard who's life becomes entwined with Kells as they are plunged in a plot to reawaken magic and tear down the wall between their worlds. This summary makes the book seem complex but V.E. Schwab creates a movie seeming novel that lays out this plot beautifully. I highly recommend this fantasy novel with the magic system that makes it seem plausible. I will definitely be reading the sequel "Gathering of Shadow's". 5/5 Stars.
Eeeek this was amazing. Fantasy is a tricky thing. I want to be pulled into a multi-faceted, complicated world. I want alluring, elemental magic (that borders on dangerous.) I want characters that I love, hate, and love to hate. I want ruthlessness and danger, but beauty and enchantment. Most of all, the tipping point: I want it to have all of these things, but also feel real. I want to escape into a purely magical world yet feel as if it could exist.
"A Darker Shade of Magic" is my new favourite book. It's a fantasy that I can finally say, with absolute confidence, will begin to fill that hole in your heart left by that kid with the glasses. (Yeah, I went there.) That's not to say they're the same, at all...but if you want to be absolutely thrilled by a world and its characters, then this one's for you.
It took me a chapter or two to get my bearings. Our hero, a young man named Kell, is an "Antari," that is, one born with the ability to travel between worlds. Magic is a dangerous, yet celebrated and respected part of life, and an Antari is a rare thing. Kell, who has been adopted of sorts by the royal family, is tasked with traveling between the different "Londons" to exchange royal correspondence. It was getting the hang of the Londons: Grey London, which has lost magic (resembling our London in the 1800s) Red London, which is Kell's home, and incidentally where magic thrives, White London, which is starving for magic (and everything else) and Black London, which has been taken over completely by magic and is now more of a cautionary tale than a place people go.
After a series of events, Kell becomes involved in a dangerous mission, and meets up with the cross-dressing thief Delilah (who inhabits Grey London.) She is need of adventure and a bit of an escape, so decides she's along for the ride. The stakes are high, the risk is higher, and it's all a complete adventure in every sense of the word. Dangerous, black magic. Royal festivities and masquerade balls, with double disguises. Magical tokens with life of their own. Shady criminals, colourful pubs, ruthless rulers, and a good-hearted prince. Through it all pulses magic; healing, wounding, creating.
There is so much to discover in these stories. The world building is multi-dimensional, complete with other languages. Each London is practically a character in itself; I loved the different feel to each one. Kell is a smart, layered, interesting person that is both intriguing and relatable. Delilah is both frustrating (she's impulsive) and clever. The magic, whether it appears in a spell, an item, or simply woven throughout, is by turns delightful and horrific. There are echoes and tributes to other classic stories of the fantastical: small nods to Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland are all present.
I loved this, and can't wait for the next one. You will too.
I'm quite enamored with the characters and the world that has been created. I found myself wanting to slip between worlds and explore Red London for myself. I felt the cold oppressiveness of White London and the mystery that is Black London. I am eagerly awaiting her third installment, set to come out in a few weeks. While I'm excited to see what becomes of Miss Bard and Kell, I'll be sad to see the series end.
A book that instantly grabs you and holds on! There's a lot to this world, or I should say worlds that Schwab introduces but she does so in such a way that it's easy to grasp and follow along with her version of magical rules. Interesting and unique character dynamics and a plot full of adventure, conspiracy and sorcery
A parallel worlds tale full of powerful magic, tension, and fantastic storytelling.
I loved the concept and the magic system in this one! This is the perfect choice for Harry Potter fans!
Most excellent fantasy! The world building is quite imaginative, and these are some of the most intriguing characters I've read about in a long time.
An enchanting and dangerous story of a two of a kind magician Kell and his ability to travel through parallel universes. I emersed myself in the plot and read it pretty quickly.