A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted June 27, 2016 by Minx

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 398
ISBN: 0765376458
Purchase at: Amazon
Minx's Rating:

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city 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, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.


This book has been on my shelf for a few months now, patiently waiting for its turn to be in my lovely hands. While I was not disappointed, I was a bit bored. Whaat?? Did I say that? Yes, I did. Why Minx? Why, when everyone else loves it so?? I will explain, just stick with me while I go over a few things.

The Setting:

The world building is phenomenal, four Londons, yes! The author spent quite a bit on page time building these worlds and I must say bravo! Four parallel universes all with separate rulers, societies, and culture. The rulers although never able to meet are aware of each other and communicate with each other by messenger. Fantastic concept, alternate universes all tied together but separated through magic. Oh yes, really cool!

What I loved:

Delilah “Lila” Bard: Some may have an issue with a cross-dressing chick with a flair for all things pirate BUT I do not. I liked this character’s sass and commitment to her dreams. Yes, she is amoral, mischievous and although she tries to come off hard as stone, she is really not so cold-blooded. Also, she wants to be a pirate! Love all things pirate, cannot help myself. Why I like her:

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”

 “Seen what?”

Her smile widened. “Everything.”

Athos and Astrid Dane: Twins that are the rulers of White London. They are bad! Vicious! Conniving! And the main element to this story, without them there would be just a fantastic world. When I am looking for villains to be villains I am usually let down but not this time. Here is an excerpt on the Danes:

The infamous Krös Mejkt, the “Stone Forest,” was made up not of trees but of statues, all of them people. It was rumored the figures hadn’t always been stone, that the forest was actually a graveyard, kept by the Danes to commemorate those they killed, and remind any who passed through the outer wall of what happened to traitors in the twins’ London.


The queen considered him, her pale lips curling at the edges. “The bodies in my floor all trusted someone. Now I walk on them to tea.”

Why I was “meh”:

I think I have discussed enough about the world building and some of the characters so you know that I have an appreciation for them but I wanted more. More what? More of everything! There are little details that are given and then never explored upon. I want deeper meanings in the relationships that are introduced. What about all the other rulers? The Gray world was introduced but where did those rulers go? Why bother to introduce them? The Red rulers, where is the background information that makes me love them or hate them? Make me love, make me despise, make me angry! Make me something! Where did Kell come from? Give me an inkling, make me want to hang on! Sigh.

I am absolutely reading the next book because I want to know if any of my questions are answered….oh yeah and because I already own it. I am just hopeful that the story will kick everything up a notch and the overall concept and relationships will be expanded upon.

Have you read this story? How did you like it? A Curious mind would like to know.

About V.E. Schwab

Author Victoria Schwab

Literary Agent: Holly Root at Waxman Literary
Film Agent: Jon Cassir at CAA
Publishers: Disney*Hyperion, Tor, Scholastic
VICIOUS (2013)
EVERYDAY ANGEL #1, #2, #3 (2014-15)

The Story:

I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. I also suffer from a wicked case of wanderlust, made worse by the fact that wandering is a good way to stir up stories. When I’m not haunting Paris streets or trudging up English hillsides, I’m usually tucked in the corner of a coffee shop, dreaming up monsters.

These days, when someone asks me what I do when I’m NOT writing, I just kind of laugh nervously. But in truth, on the odd occasion I’m not typing away, I’m probably baking cookies, or watching BBC shows, or wandering. (See how we came full circle, there?)

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