A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

Book - 2015
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"From V.E. Schwab, the critically acclaimed author of Vicious, comes a new universe of daring adventure, thrilling power, and parallel Londons, beginning with A Darker Shade of Magic. 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. "-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780765376459
Characteristics: 400 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

I liked V.E. Schwab's fantasy trilogy that starts with A Darker Shade of Magic, followed by A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light which features multiple versions of London, magical duels, travel between worlds, and all those wonderful fantasy tropes that we geeks love!

From the critics

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Jun 16, 2018

I enjoyed this book of magic and adventure. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good fantasy story, if you can put up with the author's writing style. The rest of the series is not as good.

Apr 23, 2018

This was a mixed bag for me. The writing by Schwab was fantastic. The way she writes fight scenes and her description of magic should be the standard. However, I found her main characters to be lacking. Kell was just a rip off of Han Solo, and didn't have much depth to him. I wanted to wring Lila's neck. She was every low class thief ever, with a bad, BAD case of "I'm not like other girls" disease. Why is wearing dresses and acting feminine a bad thing? Lila constantly shames all other women and it gets tiring very quickly. On top of that, she wasn't necessary to the story. We didn't need a fish out of water to describe Kell's world- he was doing just fine all on his own before she showed up. I understood the magic system- the travelling, the blood, the tokens, the 4 Londons, all of it. If it was just Kell, I would have rated the book higher. Holland was a way more interesting character. Why couldn't we have more of him? He had more depth than Kell and Lila put together. I hope there's more of him in the next in the series.
It could also be that my distaste of the characters comes from listening to half of this novel on Audiobook. The narrator was awful and made Lila extremely whiny and hackneyed. I would NOT recommend it.
Either way, the writing was superb, the characters, not so much.

Apr 22, 2018

This is an amazing book. Wow. Just wow.

V.E. Schwab is the master of exposition that doesn't feel like exposition. She has somehow managed to introduce complex worlds and systems without talking at the reader. Her dialogue is just as seemingly effortless. The banter between Kell and Lila was so fantastic, and when she formally meets Rhy, all three of them are just so great together. The imagery was fantastic and vivid. The plot was consistently intriguing and exciting. I was never bored reading this. I even read some pages out loud to my brother in a fancy British narrator voice and it sounded so great! There weren't any awkward lines or anything.

The magic system was so amazing and unique, coupled with the historical setting, this felt like a classic adventure story. The back blurb by io9 is so true: it truly does "[feel] like a priceless object, brought from another, better world of fantasy books."

Kell: He was a fantastic hero. He wasn't overpowered despite literally being one of the most powerful beings in the entire universe, and even managed to be relatable. Also, he's totally my bookish crush right now, like oh my goodness, he's so great, I love him. Can he just be real and also my boyfriend?

Lila: She is the strong female protagonist the world needed. She manages to be a formidable fighter even when compared to the likes of Kell and Astrid Dane (while still being realistically underpowered given the fact that she couldn't use magic like them). She is witty and smart.

Holland: Dang this guy was scary. I kept reading his voice and seeing him as Mads Mikkelsen in my head, so I think that gives a good idea as to what kind of a villain he was.

Rhy: While he didn't feature much, he was consistent and very real when he did. I loved his sense of humor.

Astrid and Athos Dane: These guys were so scary oh my gosh. They were like two evil Viking demons in stark white. They were so sadistic and psychotic.

This is a new favorite, for sure. I felt like I'd been waiting for this book without knowing. I never knew there was an A Darker Shade of Magic shaped hole in my heart until I started reading it. I am intrigued to know what happens in the next two books, especially since seemingly all threats were resolved by the end. Either way, I love this book and I'm so glad I read it.

Apr 09, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. It’s well written, and the rules of the world work really well. I love the idea of multiple Londons. If you like fantasy, I recommend it.

Mar 22, 2018

I don’t usually like fantasy novels, but I picked up this book anyways. (the cover art attracted me if I’m being honest.) As soon as I started reading, I was pulled into this massive world. There is so much detail that you can clearly picture the scene in your mind. Sometimes, however, it felt like the detail dragged on just a bit too long, but perhaps the detail was necessary. The characters are easily loveable and relatable, and you find yourself rooting for them from the beginning. The story is so unique and interesting, and has a great blend of politics, fantasy, and danger. High hopes for the rest of the series! Rating: 4/5
- @mae of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

ArapahoeJenny Feb 11, 2018

Excellent world building in this thrilling fantasy about a young magician. Great set-up for the rest of the series!

ArapahoeLaura Feb 07, 2018

Travel between worlds, a cross-dressing pirate, and a misanthropic magician. What could possibly go wrong? Answer: EVERYTHING

Nov 25, 2017

I'm afraid 'A Darker Shade of Magic' is what you get when your author has a number of interesting ideas but little to no desire in telling an actual story. The result is a collection of interesting ideas but a decidedly dull, empty story and world(s) overall.

Oct 15, 2017

You may detect the faintest echoes of influence from Gaiman's Neverwhere, Tolkein's LotR and Lewis' Magician's Nephew. The concepts of elemental magic, parallel worlds out of balance, confluence points and mundane items as tokens are also not new but Schwab fits them together into a universe that doesn't feel derivative and needs little further explanation. It is a minor detail hardly mentioning but Kell's multi-reversible coat reveals a lot about the author's imagination. Note that Schwab's subsequent books are published as V.E. instead of Victoria.

Jun 25, 2017

London during the 1800's is a dull, gray place. A reckless young thief named Lila dreams of escaping the city to grand adventures. One day she meets Kell, a young magician who can travel between parallel worlds. Kell comes from a version of London where magic is very real and very fabulous. But there are other versions of London where magic is dark and dangerous and Kell is in great danger. Sounds like an adventure to Lila!

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Jun 16, 2018

rapunzel454 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Oct 15, 2017

humbleworm thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Nov 13, 2016

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Feb 06, 2016

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Nov 16, 2015

Pipthekat thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

DreamerDreamsOn Jul 28, 2015

DreamerDreamsOn thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add Notices

Nov 13, 2016

Other: There is an attempted rape scene early on in the novel.

Nov 13, 2016

Frightening or Intense Scenes: People being turned into monsters, the main villains torture multiple characters throughout the book.

Nov 13, 2016

Sexual Content: There is a vaguely detailed sex scene.

Nov 13, 2016

Violence: Several fight scenes, a lot of death.

Nov 13, 2016

Coarse Language: Several curse words are used throughout, including the f-word.

mvkramer Apr 28, 2016

Violence: Torture, magic battles, and lots of stabby-stabby.


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