A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

Book - 2016
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Welcome to Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, with one mad king - George III. Then there is Red London, where life and magic are revered and White London, a city slowly being drained through magical war, down 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 - one of the last magicians who can travel between the worlds - acting as ambassador and messenger between the Londons, in service of the Maresh empire. Unofficially, he's a smuggler, which is a dangerous hobby for him to have - as proved when Kell stumbles into a setup with a forbidden token from Black London. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cutpurse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces Kell 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, they'll first need to survive.
Publisher: New York :, Tor, a Tom Doherty Associates Book,, 2016
Edition: First trade paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780765376466
Characteristics: 413 pages ; 21 cm


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AL_JENNY Feb 11, 2018

Excellent world building in this thrilling fantasy about a young magician. Great set-up for the rest of the series!

AL_LAURA Feb 07, 2018

Travel between worlds, a cross-dressing pirate, and a misanthropic magician. What could possibly go wrong? Answer: EVERYTHING

Nov 25, 2017

I'm afraid 'A Darker Shade of Magic' is what you get when your author has a number of interesting ideas but little to no desire in telling an actual story. The result is a collection of interesting ideas but a decidedly dull, empty story and world(s) overall.

Oct 15, 2017

You may detect the faintest echoes of influence from Gaiman's Neverwhere, Tolkein's LotR and Lewis' Magician's Nephew. The concepts of elemental magic, parallel worlds out of balance, confluence points and mundane items as tokens are also not new but Schwab fits them together into a universe that doesn't feel derivative and needs little further explanation. It is a minor detail hardly mentioning but Kell's multi-reversible coat reveals a lot about the author's imagination. Note that Schwab's subsequent books are published as V.E. instead of Victoria.

katbee Aug 16, 2017

I picked up this book because I was excited about the multiple Londons. I wanted to know more about the similarities and differences of the universes. I found it hard to care about the main storyline. It seemed simple to me.

Jun 25, 2017

London during the 1800's is a dull, gray place. A reckless young thief named Lila dreams of escaping the city to grand adventures. One day she meets Kell, a young magician who can travel between parallel worlds. Kell comes from a version of London where magic is very real and very fabulous. But there are other versions of London where magic is dark and dangerous and Kell is in great danger. Sounds like an adventure to Lila!

May 08, 2017

Well well well, look what I finally read and loved! Beyond the massive hype, I always assume that adult fantasy will be inaccessible to me; I struggle with terminology and complexity sometimes so I tend to put them off until I have time to really give the book a fair chance. That was not a problem for A Darker Shade of Magic a.k.a ADSOM. I was honestly captivated from the beginning and could picture everything perfectly. The writing is crisp and detailed, enough to paint an indelible image in your mind but not so much that you are overwhelmed. I love the concept of parallel Londons and V.E. Schwab did a magnificent job of differentiating between them, making them come alive (as it were). I really liked the history of the worlds and of magic, and the idea of the pub present in every London, the city of London in every different country & world.

The dialogue was fantastic. The action was intense. And THE CHARACTERS. I LOVED KELL. AND I LOVED LILA. AM I ALLOWED TO SHIP THEM BECAUSE I DO (full disclosure after finishing the trilogy: I definitely ship them). Aside from that, I found them individually fascinating, fully realized, and got positively giddy when their paths finally crossed. They’re a good pair, two sides of the same coin. I really enjoyed their alternate POV chapters; the tone was pitch perfect and it was interesting to see magic through each of their very different world views.

I liked what I saw of Rhy, I hated the scary Dane twins (but oh were they chilling villains!), and I genuinely was invested in everyone, even Holland. I can’t think of much I didn’t like, and I’m honestly not sure why I waited so long to read this book because it has everything I love: magic, royalty, lots of action, secrets, long lost artifacts, intrigue, kissing. I was satisfied with how the book ended so I’m curious to see where the sequels will go (disclosure #2: the sequels are AMAZING).

Apr 07, 2017

I started it but was unable to get interested. Characters and plot failed to make me care. Obviously I am in the minority. I am not the typical reader of this genre (over 50...) so perhaps for a younger audience the book would have more resonance. That said, I do like Sarah Maas and am looking forward to her next instalment in the Throne of Glass series.

Mar 24, 2017

The premises of a person who can travel between four distinct London's drew me in. This novel takes place in the 1800's when magic travel between these London's is extremely discouraged. In the distant past, one of the London's called Black London underwent a terrible ordeal where the magic started to consume the humans who tried to wield it. Since this, the doors between the London's have been closed. The only one's allowed to travel between the worlds are powerful magicians called Travellers. When we first meet Kell, he has traveled to Grey London (the unmagical world) to deliver a message from his own rulers of Red London to King George the 3rd and Prince Regent. The existence of other London's, as we learn is a closely guarded secret that only the rulers know. We follow Kell from Grey to Red London (the magical one), to the ominous White London who makes Hitler and Vlad the Impaler look nice. At the same time. we meet a young thief of Grey London name Lila Bard who's life becomes entwined with Kells as they are plunged in a plot to reawaken magic and tear down the wall between their worlds. This summary makes the book seem complex but V.E. Schwab creates a movie seeming novel that lays out this plot beautifully. I highly recommend this fantasy novel with the magic system that makes it seem plausible. I will definitely be reading the sequel "Gathering of Shadow's". 5/5 Stars.

Feb 14, 2017

Eeeek this was amazing. Fantasy is a tricky thing. I want to be pulled into a multi-faceted, complicated world. I want alluring, elemental magic (that borders on dangerous.) I want characters that I love, hate, and love to hate. I want ruthlessness and danger, but beauty and enchantment. Most of all, the tipping point: I want it to have all of these things, but also feel real. I want to escape into a purely magical world yet feel as if it could exist.

"A Darker Shade of Magic" is my new favourite book. It's a fantasy that I can finally say, with absolute confidence, will begin to fill that hole in your heart left by that kid with the glasses. (Yeah, I went there.) That's not to say they're the same, at all...but if you want to be absolutely thrilled by a world and its characters, then this one's for you.

It took me a chapter or two to get my bearings. Our hero, a young man named Kell, is an "Antari," that is, one born with the ability to travel between worlds. Magic is a dangerous, yet celebrated and respected part of life, and an Antari is a rare thing. Kell, who has been adopted of sorts by the royal family, is tasked with traveling between the different "Londons" to exchange royal correspondence. It was getting the hang of the Londons: Grey London, which has lost magic (resembling our London in the 1800s) Red London, which is Kell's home, and incidentally where magic thrives, White London, which is starving for magic (and everything else) and Black London, which has been taken over completely by magic and is now more of a cautionary tale than a place people go.

After a series of events, Kell becomes involved in a dangerous mission, and meets up with the cross-dressing thief Delilah (who inhabits Grey London.) She is need of adventure and a bit of an escape, so decides she's along for the ride. The stakes are high, the risk is higher, and it's all a complete adventure in every sense of the word. Dangerous, black magic. Royal festivities and masquerade balls, with double disguises. Magical tokens with life of their own. Shady criminals, colourful pubs, ruthless rulers, and a good-hearted prince. Through it all pulses magic; healing, wounding, creating.

There is so much to discover in these stories. The world building is multi-dimensional, complete with other languages. Each London is practically a character in itself; I loved the different feel to each one. Kell is a smart, layered, interesting person that is both intriguing and relatable. Delilah is both frustrating (she's impulsive) and clever. The magic, whether it appears in a spell, an item, or simply woven throughout, is by turns delightful and horrific. There are echoes and tributes to other classic stories of the fantastical: small nods to Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland are all present.

I loved this, and can't wait for the next one. You will too.

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Oct 15, 2017

humbleworm thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Nov 13, 2016

PayetteStAmour thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Feb 06, 2016

mariahnightfire thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Nov 16, 2015

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Jul 28, 2015

DreamerDreamsOn thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add Notices

Nov 13, 2016

Other: There is an attempted rape scene early on in the novel.

Nov 13, 2016

Frightening or Intense Scenes: People being turned into monsters, the main villains torture multiple characters throughout the book.

Nov 13, 2016

Sexual Content: There is a vaguely detailed sex scene.

Nov 13, 2016

Violence: Several fight scenes, a lot of death.

Nov 13, 2016

Coarse Language: Several curse words are used throughout, including the f-word.

mvkramer Apr 28, 2016

Violence: Torture, magic battles, and lots of stabby-stabby.


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