Saturday, 1 April 2017

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

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—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, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, 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—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him 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, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.
This book was enjoyable enough I guess. It's quite fast paced and plot driven, I particularly love the premise of alternate versions of London in different worlds; there is Grey London which is without magic, Red London where magic is in balance, White London where magic is pursued so ruthlessly that it has started to retreat, and the legendary Black London where magic has consumed it and so it is thought dead. Only people with special abilities, like the main character Kell, who are referred to as Antari can travel between the different Londons in different worlds.

I did like the story but it didn't have anything special that blew my mind really. The characters felt underdeveloped and some of the future plot twists were quite easy to guess. I am pretty sure I know a couple of reveals that will happen in the subsequent instalments as the foreshadowing in this book was very obvious.

Delilah Bard was the best character, she is a tough cookie who has a dream of being the pirate captain of her very own ship. I liked how she prefers to dress in men's clothes and takes no crap from anybody. I would have loved to learn more of her background in this book but alas, it was not to be.

Overall I think that although I did like this book, it was an average read for me. It did remind me of The Lord of the Rings in places, specifically the idea that a powerful object corrupts the person who possesses it. I also genuinely found this book a little scary in places but I really felt that the world building was done very well and was very engaging. I will absolutely continue on with the series to see if it gets better.

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