A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

4/5 Stars
Published by Tor Books
Published February 25th, 2015

Synopsis:  Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that 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 take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

This is the Victoria Schwab book I wish I had read first. This was everything I've ever heard of Victoria Schwab's writing. It was eloquent, illustrative, so captivating, and absolutely exquisite. I loved practically every aspect of this book and cannot believe it took me so long to read it. Schwab is incredibly good at world building and developing a slow burning storyline. Even though I've heard/read multiple comments on how A Darker Shade of Magic is a very slow paced book, I thought the release of information was dispersed at the appropriate times to keep the reader engaged. I, for one, did not feel that this book dragged on forever. I never wanted it to end. I would delay my reading time just so I could spend more minutes indulged in this world and with these characters. The slow burn made it intriguing - something that is very hard to do if you're not meticulous with your plot line.

After reading This Savage Song and coming out fairly disappointed, I knew this would be the book to impress me. The storyline to me is just so well thought out. You all know I love magic - whether it be elemental, Avatar-esque magic, or wizards and witchcraft, I will read and love it all. A Darker Shade of Magic legitimately introduces a darker shade of magic; and a unique one at that. The magic presented in this book was so interesting to dive into and get to know, that I really cannot wait to see what is explored of this magic in the second book. After hearing that A Gathering of Shadows is even better than ADSOM, I'm even more excited to continue on with this series. The amount of creativity it must have taken to create a project as special as this is an impressive feat.

I love Kell and Lila so much. I think their character and relationship development throughout this book was wonderfully executed. Lila is an awesome cutthroat, daring, and quick witted female lead. She doesn't let anything get in her way and has a dirty humor, which makes her point of views all the more entertaining to read. Kell can be seen as overprotective, especially when it comes to someone he cares about, and he is also strong-willed. Although I found Lila's POV's to be more fun, I thought Kell's were more interesting. Throughout the book, he battles with himself on and off, and those decisions always come with hard or harder consequences. So watching him make certain choices was definitely a highlight of the book and kept it interesting. Together these two make a strong team. Lila pushes Kell out of his comfort zone, while Kell keeps Lila down to earth. I can't wait to see how this relationship is tested in the next book.

I am so glad I read this book. This proved to me that Schwab is the writer everyone says she is. I cannot wait to see what awaits Kell and Lila in the second book, especially if what I think is going to go down, goes down. I know that A Conjuring of Light comes out next year, so I might want to rethink reading AGOS so soon, but I must suffer along with the rest of you.