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

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg. I was myself entirely.”

Rating: ★★★.75

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V.E. Schwab’s pitch for this book perfectly describes this story: pirates, thieves, sadist kings, and violent magic-y stuff.

I found this to be a fantastic fantasy novel, incredibly unique, diverse and insanely interesting. It was dark & exciting, and the way the author writes is absolutely beautiful. Almost poetic. V. E. Schwab has an unmistakable voice, and the way she expresses every sentence is breathtaking.

Apart from the characters, my favorite part of this book was the world building. I fell in love with the concept of there being four different parallel Londons: Grey, Red, White and Black.

1. Grey London is basically the London we know, where magic doesn’t really “exist”.
2. Red London is full magic, it’s thriving there.
3. White London has little magic left, and the magic that is left is mainly used for power by cruel and sadistic rulers, so it’s a pretty unpleasant place to live in.
4. Black London used to exist and have magic, but it was destroyed. Some people don’t even believe it exists anymore, it acts as a precautionary tale.

Although the world-building was a bit difficult to understand at first, with all the different versions of London and a new language created by Schwab, it didn’t take long before I got accustomed to the concept, and was hooked. Once I understood the world a bit better, it was pretty easy to pinpoint where our main characters were, because each London have a distinct feeling, each is unique in its own way; the author does an extraordinary job dividing these worlds.

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Basically, the story takes place within three versions of London: Grey, White & Red. At first, people were able to transport between them, but the portals were destroyed with the loss of Black London and now only Kell and one other Antari (traveler) are able to travel between these worlds. He is the messenger of the rulers of the London versions and on one of his travels, he meets Delilah, also known as Lila, a crossed-dressed thief and aspiring pirate.

The characters: they were SO MUCH FUN, Lila Bard & Kell won my heart, they’re dynamic was so captivating, I truly loved their scenes.
1. Lila Bard stole the show, for me. Her cunningness, wit, sarcasm, fierceness & bravery stood out, and her sense for adventure made my heart soar. Her need to experience life is something to aspire to, and her ability of doing whatever it takes to live fully was a beautiful thing to explore within the story.
2. Kell: I feel like he has so many layers to him, and we only scratched the surface, in this book. It makes me want to read the sequel that much more. He’s mysterious and complex, undyingly loyal to his brother, and just an amazing character to read about.

The one small issue I had was the lack of action for a good chunk of the book. There was SO much world-building, and I truly loved that, but it came at the cost of lacking the action that’s supposed to make me want to pick up the book frequently; because of this, it took me quite a bit to finish this book. But, just because it’s slow paced, doesn’t mean this book wasn’t fantastic. The story was utterly intriguing, and around the 150 page mark it became truly addictive.

I can’t wait to pick up A Gathering of Shadows and read more of Lila & Kell! I know the sequel will be even darker and intriguing than its predecessor, and I can’t wait! ❤

So now I leave you with possibly the creepiest quote I’ve ever read in my life. THIS IS WHY V. E. SCHWAB IS EVERYTHING.

“Pretty thing,” whispered an old woman from a doorway in Maktahm.
“Pretty skin. Pretty bones.”
“This way, Master,” called another.
“Come inside.”
“Rest your feet.”
“Rest your bones.”
“Pretty bones.”
“Pretty blood.”
“Drink your magic.”
“Eat your life.”
“Come inside.”


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12 thoughts on “Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

  1. Kayla @ Sunday Morning Coffee says:

    When I first saw your post about the sequel to this and the line was “Harry Potter and Pirates of the Carribean” YOU HAD ME SOLD. I need to get this book ASAP. I’m glad you’ve already reviewed the sequel for it, so when I do eventually get my hands on it, I can binge read and come back to these! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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