Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab


About the Book:

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: February 24th, 2015

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction

Pages: 400 pages

Rating: 5/5



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.


“As Travars,” he said. Travel.

Ever since I read Vicious, I become one of the huge fans of Queen V herself. I just know by then that I have to read ALL of her books. In A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab created a twisting world of blood, magic, and conspiracies which I have never read before.

This book will not only allow you to travel in one London but rather four Londons. Yes, FOUR Londons. Who wouldn’t want an adventure to parallel, otherworldly Londons?

The world building is one of the best I’ve read so far. The idea of these parallel Londons, which have similar natural features, but differ in the way the magic exists in each one, is just incredible. The magic system is imaginably believable. It is apparent that Schwab carefully considered and well-thought-out each element. The descriptions are very detailed and vivid that you can easily differentiate those places without confusing yourself.

The characters are all compulsively fascinating. We have Kell, the protagonist of the story, who is a complex, strong character but also has a soft side and gentle to those he loves the most. Did I mention he has a coat that has different sides, where you can put a lot of things (even the forbidden ones)? Yes, that’s crazy but wickedly brilliant. Then we have Lila, a cross-dressing pirate who had a tough life but still grew up to be a cunning, stern, badass character. She has a lot of mysteries from her past (or even in her present life) which draws readers to her. We also have a spoiled, but a loveable prince, devious evil twin rulers and so many more. What I like best about all characters is that they are morally gray. They are not considered good, but they also are not evil. Schwab did a good job writing these characters.

For the plot, it started quite slow but steady which is completely okay for me because it is the usual scenario in fantasy books. Every scene and character has their purpose. I like how there are lots of actions, and how one action leads to another twist in the story.

Overall, A Darker Shade of Magic is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t wait to have more adventures with Lila and Kell!

5/5 stars!



I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. I also suffer from a wicked case of wanderlust, made worse by the fact that wandering is a good way to stir up stories. When I’m not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, I’m usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters.

My first YA novel, THE NEAR WITCH, a dark original fairy tale, debuted with Disney*Hyperion in August 2011, and is now out in paperback.

My next YA novel, THE ARCHIVED, is the first book in a new supernatural series about a world where the dead are shelved like books, and it hits stores January 2013, also with Disney*Hyperion.

My first adult novel, VICIOUS, about two brilliant and highly disturbed pre-med students who set out to generate their own superpowers and end up mortal enemies, came out in hardcover from Tor September 2013.

My middle grade series, EVERYDAY ANGEL, about a peculiar guardian angel and the three girls she must help to earn her wings, comes out with Scholastic book fairs in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, and Spring 2016.

My next adult series, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, about a magician who can move through multiple versions of London and the pick pocket who steals a talisman that could end them all, comes out February 24th, 2015.

I have more books coming out in 2015-2016, but I’ll get to those later.

These days, when someone asks me what I do when I’m NOT writing, I just kind of laugh nervously. But in truth, on the odd occasion I’m not typing away, I’m probably baking cookies, or watching BBC shows, or wandering. (See how we came full circle, there?)


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