REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Synopsis: Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

Series: Shades of Magic #1

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: ★★★☆☆/ 3.5 fun and magical stars!

Review: I know that I'm a little late to the game with this series. I've seen this book (and it's sequel) on many media platforms and I know that it's incredibly popular. I'm excited for the author, V.E. Schwab, because I'm a fan of her previous work. I loved Vicious and The Archived series (written under her other name Victoria Schwab), and the success of this book means that I will get more of her other works too! Getting down to it, I liked A Darker Shade of Magic, but didn't fall head over heels for the story. I love Shwab's other works much more.

I have been dragging my feet to write this review. I read the book rather quickly and enjoyed it, but it fell flat part way through and for some reason I'm having a hard time pinpointing exactly where it fell flat for me. I didn't dislike any part of it and yet I still felt something missing. The entire premise is intriguing and the characters are fun, mysterious,and/or dark. The writing is precise and magical. It's wonderfully adventurous and unique. So why did I have a hard time connecting and losing myself in the story? I really don't know. I think that the fault lies with me in this instance.

If I must dig deep and find fault, the only thing I can come up with is that it wasn't complicated enough. I felt like there could have been more detail, more intrigue. But this is being unfair, I'm sure, seeing as it's a series and there is more to come...but I had to come up with something for a 3.5 star review.

I'm interested to see where the next book takes the story. Overall, I love Schwab's writing, and I'm sure that in the long run it won't let me down.


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