A Darker Shade of Magic – Review

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

‘As Travars. To Travel.’


A Darker Shade of Magic was an adventurous, magical tale with phenomenal world building.

A Darker Shade of Magic is book one in Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, and I want to start off by saying, it was a well rounded, enjoyable start to the trilogy.

In a world where there are four parallel London’s, Kell is one of the last two travelers who can use coveted magic to travel through the different universes. Grey London is dirty, a world without magic. Red London is where magic flourishes and is respected. White London is a dying world with magic fighting against people, draining the city of life. The fourth London isn’t spoken of anymore.

Kell dabbles in forbidden hobbies, and leads him to be caught on the run, when his world collides with an aspiring pirate, Lila Bard. Dark magic lurks, lives are on the line, and enemies become bold, leaving these pair to attempt to save their worlds.

Since this is a review, below does contain spoilers, if you haven’t read the book, don’t read any further. You have been warned.

I absolutely loved the premise of A Darker Shade of Magic, specifically the idea of parallel universes running through one fixed point of London. It’s an intriguing idea and was executed well. Each London was distinct, interesting and fantastic to see come to life on the pages.

“There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London”

I loved Victoria’s writing in A Darker Shade of Magic, this is the first book I have read of hers and I appreciated the attention to detail she puts in and the time she takes to set up the world. I found the book took a while to kick into action, but I think that was because of the extra time Victoria takes to ensure her stories are detailed and structured accurately. The world building of Victoria’s writing makes it stand out, and I definitely think it brought something extra to the story.

The plot wasn’t overly complex and didn’t have many subplots, however I appreciated the storyline Victoria took and it was pleasant to read. However, I am hoping for a bit more in the next book.

Our MC Kell was a fantastic character to follow, I enjoyed his personality, the way he looked at the world, and how he was humble even though he was brought up being royalty. However, I was disappointed that he was made to seem weak in most of the book. I enjoyed Kell’s perspective of magic, he used it as an equal, and I really wanted that to prevail over the dark magic. I am hoping to see more character development with Kell in A Gathering of Shadows.

Rhy was a character I wish we saw more of, he had sooo much potential and I feel like an amazing opportunity was missed at keeping him as a side character. I liked the dynamic between Kell and Rhy, it was really a brotherly relationship and I definitely think this added something to both their characters and humour of the story. Rhy and Kell’s banter together was fantastic to read, and I am just disappointed we didn’t see more.

Unpopular opinion may be coming up, but I didn’t like Lila Bard. Her character annoyed me throughout the first 80 percent of the book. Although she became more likable in the last few chapters, unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make me like or care for her as a character. The one thing I liked about her was her need to travel and seek adventures. Other than that her stubbornness, recklessness and carelessness in regards to the dark magic annoyed me to no end. She was made out to be a kick-ass female character, but she left me underwhelmed.

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg.” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

Overall, I enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic and will continue on with the series. There were definitely some things I didn’t like, but I had a great time delving into this world and learning about the magic system at work. I have high hopes for the next book in the trilogy, and I cannot wait to see what happens to our main characters.

Favourite Quote: ‘I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still’
Rating: 3.5/5

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