Author: V. E. Schwab
Kell is an Antari- a rare race of blood magicians that can travel through parallel universes. Because if this ability, Kell serves as a messenger for the royal family of Red London to another royalty of another London.
There existed four Londons: Grey London which magical practices we’re long forgotten, Red London with the abundance of magic that made them the most prosperous of all, White London that has a shortage of magic because they try to fight and control it, and Black London which cease to exist anymore.
Kell has an illegal hobby, he smuggle artifacts from one London to another for those people who wanted to posses a proof of the existence of another universe other than theirs. Kell’s life was put in the line because of this, he accidentally smuggled a dangerous artifact that made him a target for another Antari.
Before saving Kell, Delilah Bard robs him first. She knew that it is her life calling to live an adventurous life, and she got it when she demanded from Kell to let her come to his London. From this unusual meeting, Kell and Lila tried to survive a dangerous adventure full of treachery with the help of each other
V. E. Schwab’s name has been all over the social media that is why I am compelled to see what’s all the fuss is all about. Originally I am to pick up Vicious rather than A Darker Shade of Magic, but my local bookstore don’t have a stock of it so I resort on the next best thing: this. This book tackles multidimensional worlds, thievery, dangerous artifacts, and of course, magic. This book may be a second choice but I didn’t regret buying it the moment I opened it, instead, I was immensely consumed to the point that I sacrifice my precious sleep so that I can finish this book immediately. Saying that I am captivated by the story and Schwab’s writing style would be an understatement. I loved this book so much that I pre-order the next book the instant I saw the last period of the story.
Schwab certainly have an impeccable talent when it comes to world building. It’s hard enough to build a place where an intricate story line is to take place and she did it four times. She built four contrasting world that demands the reader’s senses to be involved. She delivered a multidimensional world with vivid interpretation and mad writing skills. Though every London share distinct differences from each other, the author made sure that each of them also share similarities. The dangerous backdrop of the story intensify the pull that I felt towards the book. No place in the story is safe enough for Kell and Lila, even the magic less London doesn’t proved to be a safe haven after all.
A Darker Shade of Magic does not only appeal with SFF fanatics like me. It targeted a wider range of readers by its complex plot. For example, if you’re take on fantasy novels belongs to the neutral zone but you like antiheroes, then this book is for you. Or if you’re more inclined in the high fantasy genre with a descriptive backdrop, and you think that romance is not a necessary element, then you got to pick this novel up. Personally, this book fed the craving I’ve had for a high fantasy novel that I can’t only read but also, experienced. I’ve been wanting something smell, see, feel, and then even taste, and this book enticed all my senses the moment I picked it up. The pacing might be slow at first, but I understand the need to slow down a story like this. I understand the necessity to build first a strong backdrop, and to introduce characters when the story is about to dive a cliff full of magical practices and treachery.
If you have read my past reviews, you’ll know that I have a certain weakness when it comes to characters like Lila. I believe that the world need more characters like her. She’s far from beautiful, yet she’s charming and a debonair through and through. She’s full of flaws, but she still aims high and was determined to reach her goals. Though she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, Lila expressed an unusual sympathy and vulnerability to those people and things that matters to her. She knows how to appreciate simple things.
More than half of the story is focused on Kell and his struggle to remain a good person despite of the strong influence of bad magic. I admire his protectiveness and love toward his adoptive brother. He would go to the end of the world for him and he is willing to save him any time at any cost without a second thought. My only issue with him is that under his intriguing coat is a plain character. Yes he can do magic and travel between parallel universe, but personality wise, he’s not unforgettable.
Another element that I found remarkable in this world is its villains. The Danes we’re both cruel, cunning and power-hungry. They’re the perfect antagonist for this kind of book. They were both meant to be evil and unforgiving, and they delivered it the best way possible.
A Darker Shade of Magic ends on a good note for me. All the issues we’re resolved while the author left enough questions for me to look forward for the next book. Schwab ends this part of Lila and Kell’s story with the promise of an interesting continuation and I bet that it will be one.