Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic, #1
In Red London where magic flourishes and the kingdom prospers, Kell is unique. While those gifted in magic have the ability to manipulate one of the elements, as an Antari, Kell is able to manipulate them all. He also possesses the rare ability to travel from one world into another, for there is more than one London. Grey London, White London, and the mythical Black London all have their own dangers and it is Kell’s job to carry messages between the crowns. When a long forgotten artifact falls into his hands and is then stolen by the pickpocket Lila Bard, Kell must get it back and find a way to destroy it before the dark magic within it consumes him and destroys his home.
“But the thing about magic…is that it preys on the strong-minded and the weak-willed, and one of the worlds couldn’t stop itself. The people fed on the magic and the magic fed on them until it ate their bodies and their minds and then their souls.”
V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic is a story of adventure, family, and the thirst for power that resides in each of us. With its contrasting Londons, the novel explores each world’s relationship to magic and how none are truly separate from the others in consequence. Red London welcomes magic, but regulates its use, guarding against the darker forms. Grey London is much like our own world, without magic, where most have forgotten it existed at all. White London is a volatile place, where the people are willing to do anything to control magic. Black London has become a fable, a world that collapsed under the greed for more magic, a warning to those who seek a darker shade.
Raised alongside Prince Rye since he was a small boy, Kell is pulled between two different realities, one in which he belongs and another that says he doesn’t. Despite his extraordinary abilities and the awe that comes with it, Kell is not content and knows there is more to his past than the king and queen of his world are willing to tell him. Lila Bard, hailing from the streets of Grey London, longs for adventure, for more than living day-to-day, struggling to survive. While one fears the family he does have is an illusion, the other fears having one will weaken her. Kell’s good intentions and conscientiousness are nicely balanced with Lila’s bravado and cleverness.
Kell and Lila’s journey is not an easy one and while the two do not start off with the same goal, a mutual respect develops between the two over the course of the story that eventually has them working together. Evil characters like the Dane Twins, who rule White London, are a jarring example of magical corruption, whose vile acts will give the reader chills. If you are a fan of magical fantasy, you won’t regret picking up A Darker Shade of Magic which enchants from the very first page.