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A Darker Shade of Magic

Cover: 'A Darker Shade of Magic'

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


Prepare to enter a world with multiple Londons, each defined by their level of magic or lack thereof. In Red London, magic is vibrant and strong, and home to Kell, a young man adopted by the royal family. Kell is an antari, a blood magician, and one of the few that can travel between the Londons. White London is dying, as those who possess the waning magic fiercely maintain their control. No one speaks of Black London. Grey London has long forgotten the existence of magic, and is the home of the ailing King George III. It is also the home of nineteen-year-old Delilah (Lila) Bard, a quick-witted thief with a light touch, a fondness for knives, and dreams of becoming a pirate. Officially, Kell serves as an emissary of the royal family, but he’s also been known to smuggle objects between worlds, a practice that is strictly forbidden. Injured and fleeing to Grey London, he encounters Lila, who promptly picks his pocket. It’s a very atypical “meet cute,” and a battle of wits and weaponry ensues as Kell seeks to reclaim his contraband. As they work together to undo the consequences of Kell’s latest act of smuggling, a tenuous partnership is formed. Lila is wired for self-preservation, and Kell is unaccustomed to requiring the assistance of another, but saving their worlds as they know them will require their combined talents and a level of trust that will not come naturally to either of them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which builds the characters and the multiple worlds with exquisite care even as the plot barrels forward. If you prefer your heroines unconventional and feisty and appreciate a brooding hero with actual magic up the sleeves of his multi-faceted coat (one that would make Mary Poppins’ bag green with envy), this is the book for you! (The audiobooks, which are available via OverDrive, are also excellent.) I’ve completed the trilogy and heartily recommend it to adult and teen readers who enjoy stories that include adventure, complex characters, compelling relationships, unique worlds, and a carefully developed system of magic.

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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