A Darker Shade of Magic: A Review

Posted March 7, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

A Darker Shade of Magic: A ReviewA Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
Published by Tor Books on February 24, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once 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 royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby 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 another world for her '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 — trickier than they hope.

Review: I had heard a lot of hype about this book beforehand…which is not always a good thing if it doesn’t live up to the expectation. This book, though, was phenomenal. It was my first Victoria Schwab experience and I can’t wait to read her other books. The characterization she developed…the worlds she developed were all amazing. In almost a Lord of the Rings-esque way, Schwab introduced readers to the journey of Kell and Lila through the four Londons: Grey (ahem, us), Red, White, and (dun, dun, dunnn) Black. And it was beautiful.

The Good: First off, the originality. The separate elements in and of themselves are not original. Magic…check! A budding and flirty relationship that leaves the reader hanging…check! Snarky characters…check! A quest to rid the world of the evil that it was already supposed to be ridden of…check! But painted all these elements together in a beautiful, new way that I have never seen before.

The cover is beautiful. Just look at it. It’s just beautiful.

The characters are so well done. I loved the two main characters Kell and Lila. The whole time I was hoping they’d get together (I’m just learning that the internet calls that “shipping”?) and they end up…ha, just kidding. I’m not going to give you those kind of spoilers. Suckers. Anyways, really good.

The Bad: There isn’t much to say here. The only thing I think I could say would be that the beginning is rather slow. The plot doesn’t really pick up until around halfway through the 400 page novel. Despite this, Schwab rocked it. She spent that time developing this enchanting world and did it so well that I didn’t care that the plot hadn’t started picking up. I was absorbed.

Actually, in thinking about the characters, whom I loved, I wish that there had been more of them. More backstory. Schwab probably could have pulled off a longer novel without upsetting anyone if she had done this. We get the here and now of the characters, but I don’t think we get much, if any, history into who they were before. I love the characters…and I want more. Hopefully the sequel will help alleviate that.

Recommendation: Get the book. Read the book. If you live near me, I’ll let you borrow the book.



  • I’m so excited to get to reading this book 🙂 I just got it! I keep reading about how amazing it is! The book sounds so good! Nice review 🙂

    • Yay, isn’t that new book feeling exciting? I hope you enjoy it!

  • I can’t wait to read this book! It’s sitting at the top of a stack I’ll get to as soon as I’m back from a trip (ok, it’s kind of a tall stack, but I WILL find time to get to everything – positive thinking)