Thursday 16 November 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic, Book One
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback
Published: 27th February 2015
Number of Pages: 400
Book: Bought 
Genre:  Fantasy, Historical, Action-Adventure, Mystery, YA, Adult, Crossover
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol, Sexual and Sexual Assault References
Author's Site: V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last travellers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. 
There’s Grey London, without magic and ruled by the mad King George III.  Red London – where magic is revered, and where Kell is raised alongside the heir to the empire.  White London – where people fight to control the remaining magic and magic fights back. 
And once there was Black London... 

I've read a lot of fantasy in my time.  But little compares to the pure brilliance of V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic.  Gorgeous, clever, addictive and unique, I am just so very in love with this book.  So please be warned: fangirling ahead.
"I'm not afraid of dying.  But I am afraid of dying here."  She swept her hand over the room, the tavern, the city.  "I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still."
Kell is an Antari – a rare magician with the ability to travel between worlds.  He lives in Red London – a vibrant place where magic and people both thrive, where Kell is raised by the King and Queen.  Grey London is the world that has forgotten all about magic.  White London is a world hungry for magic, starving for it, a place leeched of colour.  Once there was Black London, but there magic devoured the people, leaving the world dead...
Kell is running a typical message between worlds when he is asked to deliver a mysterious package.  He accepts, despite his reservations (and the fact that this is so very against the rules), and is then ambushed upon arriving in Red London.  Inadvertently, he has brought a forbidden relic to his world – a relic that could destroy them all.  He flees to Grey London and is found by Lila Bard, a thief, wanted (wo)man and pirate at heart.
Together, they must return the relic to where it belongs.  Together, they must save the remaining worlds from the curse of the lost one...
I honestly don't know where to start with this review.  Because I just love A Darker Shade of Magic and Victoria herself so freaking much.  Both are just amazing – brilliant, fantastic, wonderful, magical, vicious...  Just... wow.   
This review would go a hell of a lot better if I could just get over the blown-mind after effects...  But since I don't see that time coming any time soon, I'll just get on with it anyway.
Kell... Kell was a brilliant hero.  Brave, good, strong and also so very flawed, he managed to be both incredibly powerful and yet vulnerable all at once.  He didn't always make the smart decisions, he focused a little on the whole woe me at times and he was occasionally a little daft – and it all just made him even more loveable. 
And Lila was just amazing!  Vicious and blood thirsty and obsessed with knives!  I mean, this is really just my kind of girl.  She was just so cool and funny and sharp and I loved her to pieces.  I have my favourite crush in the series – and it's the swashbuckling, badass Delilah Bard.
I loved watching Kell and Lila together – they were funny and brilliant together.  There was next to no romance in this book – maybe there will be in the next book, because ships were definitely hinted at, just not fully realised.  I'm intrigued to see where this goes next because I just love these two together!
I also really loved seeing Kell with Rhy, his brother.  Rhy was just the sweetest – silly and flirtatious and funny, he was so much more than the rich playboy he first appeared to be and I just loved him for that.  Plus his relationship with Kell was just so sweet – they really did love one another, despite the brotherly conflicts.
The Danes were bloody terrifying!  They literally sent tingles of fear up my spine whenever they were around – they were so damn scary!   
As much as I adored the characters, the world just blew them all out of the water.   Bloody hell, it's amazing.  Just the very idea of these four unique Londons, all so different and so wonderful...  Mind-blowing.  My mind is officially and irreparably blown.  I am just in awe of Victoria.  It's hard enough to contrast a single fantasy world – she made three!  Three utterly unique, beautiful and horrible Londons – four, if we're counting the lost Black London.  Each London was so unique and detailed and amazing.  Red London was definitely my favourite – it was the thriving, alive London.  Grey London was a magic less, more historically accurate, place ruled by a mad King.  And White London...well.  Let's just say I'd avoid White London at all costs.  I just can't believe how much work and detail Victoria put into these worlds and I just can't wait to explore them more.  Amazing – just incredibly, wonderfully, perfectly amazing.
Unsurprisingly, the Slytherin queen of magic was a true wizard when it came to her writing. Gorgeous, witty and beautiful, she sucked me in from the very first sentence and had me utterly hooked from that same line.  I adored how we switched between Kell and Lila and then a few...added extra POVs.  I loved exploring all the Londons, seeing them through Kell's well travelled eyes and Lila's almost-as-new-as-our eyes.
And god, I just adored the storyline.  The idea of a quest across worlds, an evil stone, crazy rulers and brilliant characters – I mean, what's not to love?  I loved the race, the battles, the quest.  I loved the excitement, the adventure, the adrenaline-pounding pace and suspense...  I just loved all of it and cannot wait to get my hands on A Gathering of Shadows to find out what happens next!
So, if you haven't gathered, I loved A Darker Shade Of Magic just a little bit.  Ok a lot bit.  A bloody ginormous bit.  Victoria is my Slytherin queen and she has crafted a truly magical and amazing book here, one I love to absolute pieces.  It has magic, pirates, adventures, backstabbing, blood, drama, excitement and just so much more.  I am seriously struggling to find the words to do A Darker Shade of Magic justice – I just can't find the words to explain how much I bloody adored it.
Here's another attempt:
A Darker Shade Of Magic had me falling in love from the very first page.  I fell for the worlds, for Kell and Rhy and Lila, for Victoria's writing, for just about every damn thing.  I have read a lot of fantasy and I can say with certainty that this series is in the top five of my favourites – I just love it so damn much.  I honestly can't recommend it enough.  Just read it.  Read it, get your own mind blown, and then shove it into another person's hands.  Let's spread A Darker Shade of Magic like the black fever (you'll get the reference after you read the book)!  
Now I'm off to read A Gathering Of Shaodws because I gots to know what happens next!   Happy reading, Grey Londoners! 

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5 

Read this book if you liked:
The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Happy Reading