Review: A Darker Shade of Magic – Victoria Schwab

A Darker Shade final for IreneKell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—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, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, 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—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

Rating: 4/5

I’m a tad confused – this says preview excerpt, so I thought it was just the 150 page sampler, but I appear to have the complete book? Not that I’m complaining at all!

A Darker Shade of Magic is utterly dark and delicious. I love the concept of parallel Londons and their varying magic systems (or lack thereof). The characters, meanwhile, were well drawn out – conflicted Kell, headstrong Lila, charming Rhy, enigmatic Holland, the despicable Dane twins…

Bravo to the author for creating such a visceral fantasy world – she pulls no punches – it’s bloody and painful and vicious, and the body count piles up rather dramatically.

On top of that, the worlds are so evocatively drawn, and the adventure so fraught with tension that you are immediately drawn into this tale of magic and power.

Victoria Schwab has a knack for creating dark, twisted and seemingly evil characters of various degrees, and examining how too much power leads to greed, corruption and total control.

Of course, its not all doom and gloom, with some light hearted moments courtesy of Lila’s snarky comebacks, but overall, if you’re looking for a fantasy with a bit of bite, definitely give this novel a go.

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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