Ok, I have to state first that I was so on the fence with how to rate this book! While I did like it, it missed the mark in some major places but was not worth only 3 stars- so I decided to break my normal star rating system and give it 3 1/2 stars.
Ok, now I have got that out of the way, lets get to the review!
Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E Schwab
Date published: February 24 2015
Page Count: 400
My Rating: + 1/2
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–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, ambassador of the Maresh empire, 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. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
This book was a solid 3 and a half stars for me. I enjoyed it and will go on to read the other two books in the series, but it was not the exciting magic and fantasy book I was expecting. I liked the concept and story behind the book, but what really let me down was the characters-they just did not do it for me!
So lets start with the characters. I really wanted to like Kell and Lila, and while I did not dislike them, I did not become attached or invested in them. I wanted to love Kell as he seemed like an interesting male main character, but his personality fell flat and he lacked something making him likeable-I even liked the Prince more then I liked Kell, and I am normally all for the mysterious dark outsider. I am hoping that he comes into his own in the other two books. Lila just was not memorable. She is strong and really knows what she wants and will do anything to accomplish her dream, but apart from some good action scenes and moments with Kell, nothing she did really stood out or made and impact. From what was revealed in the series so far, she looks to be important, so hopefully she will get some major character development.
Ok, so now onto the good stuff behind the book. I really enjoyed the relationship between Kell and Rhy, their strong brotherly friendship. They are very different in their personality, their ideals and their futures, but they embrace their differences and show that they really care for each other. I really liked how at the end of the book everything is resolved, and they can act like adults and work through what ever happened between them (and not create grudges that can last for books like other series.) Like I mentioned before, the dynamic between Kell and Lila made for some good scenes. However, it did verge on the edge of trying to make ‘something happen’ between them-which would be fine, but it felt a little too forced at some points of the book.
The world and the setting was also a highlight of the book. The concept behind the different Londons and how magic works within the world Schwab has created is so interesting and unique, and would have so many different directions in which the story could go. The story also was very well thought out and never did it get boring or slow. When things seemed to get a bit flat, something unexpected or thrilling happened to put the story back on track and the ending closed enough doors to leave me content, but still left a few loose threads to hint at what will happen in the next two books.
Let me know your thoughts on the series (if you have read it) and how the second and the third books compare to ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’. I really would love to continue the series (as I hate leaving a series unfinished unless it is really a struggle to read.)