A Darker Shade of Magic is the first book in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab [aka Victoria Schwab].
Finished on: 12.10.2016
Kell is one of the last people who is able to cross between the Londons – Red London, where he is from, is a place where magic is harmoniously built into life; Grey London doesn’t have any magic; White London is constantly under new and bloody leadership and bleeds magic in this fight; Black London has long been lost and can’t be accessed anymore. Kell is supposed to be an ambassador between the worlds, but he has a sidebusiness smuggling artefacts between the worlds. But when he finds a mysterious artefact that may or may not be from Black London, Kell is quickly in deep trouble. Especially when he meets Lila, a thief in Grey London who senses that there’s more to Kell than just a purse and is set on going on an adventure with him.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a nice, quick read that I enjoyed, although I didn’t absolutely loved it. I wouldn’t have minded if there had been only one book and not an entire series (even despite the unfinished business in this one), but since there is a series, I guess I’ll read the rest as well.
The world as it is set out for us here is pretty interesting and I liked the idea of the parallel Londons and their different approaches and experience with magic. Schwab cleverly uses the plot to highlight the implications of her set-up without actually gearing everything towards showing off the world – a good balance to keep.
I also liked the three main characters, Kell, Lila and Rhy. All three of them have their strengths and weaknesses, and their relationships with each other feel very organic. I think I would prefer a Kell/Rhy pairing to the Kell/Lila romance we’re getting [although the option for an OT3 with all of them shouldn’t be discounted] and I don’t know if that’s more to do with my hunger for queer stories or a certain lack of chemistry between the Kell and Lila. It just feels so old-fashioned when the main guy and the (only) girl end up together. But hey, Rhy is bisexual, so I’ll celebrate that fact for now.
In any case, we’re not there yet and maybe I’ll be surprised when I continue the story. A Darker Shade of Magic was certainly good enough to warrant continuation, although I had hoped to fall more deeply in love with it than I did.
Summarizing: It’s good.