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

A Darker Shade final for Irene


Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once 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 royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby 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 another world for her ‘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 — trickier than they hoped.


The Archived by this lovely lady is one of my favorite series (please check it out if you haven’t read it yet), so my expectations for ADSOM were high, and bloody hell, she did it again!

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

Let’s start by saying that this book is beautifully written, Victoria’s style is lyrical, fluent, and drags you into the story since the very first line. Like the beginning of ADSOM is sooooo good. Kell is one of the only antari left, they can move with magic between the different Londons; yes there are four Londons. As Kell calls them: Red, White, Grey, and Black London. Technically, though, now there are only 3 Londons, since Black London was swallowed by its own magic, and that’s when Red London decided to close the doors that connected the cities, leaving White London to fight magic by itself.

“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

Kell is like the adopted kid of the royal family of Red London, although he feels like he’s a belonging to them. But Rhy, at least, his brother, and the prince, loves him and would do anything for him, and so would Kell. His ability is used to keep contacts with the other Londons, so he’s like the postman, dragged into the very weird and sneaky world of kings and queens. The only thing he does for himself is to bring tokens back home with him, but that’s forbbiden, and soon enough he founds himself in trouble, finding something that shouldn’t be were it is, and finding someone who’s very funny, lovable, stubborn, and a thief.

He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time they were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell’s world. One he was sure to snag on.

Delilah Bard. Better known as Lila. Please, remember this name because she’s about to become one of your favorite characters. That’s what happened to me. I’m in love with her. She’s a poor girl from Grey London, and she casually stumbles upon Kell, and thought it would be a good idea to steal something from him. Well, it wasn’t (that depends, because it was a very good thing since it brought them together). Don’t mind me, even though there’s little, if not none, romance in this book, I will go down with this ship.

Lila Bard knew in her bones that she was meant to be a pirate.

Yes, ladies, our hero wants to be a pirate! I mean you can’t get any cooler than that, and as soon as I read that line I was sure I would love this book. But aside from her dreams, Lila is truly an amazing character. She’s not even sure why she ends up helping Kell, if not for the sake of going on an adventure, during which she grows up a lot. She can’t stand still, she’s kind of rude, badass and clever. I’m pretty sure Kell is in love with her, because who wouldn’t, right? (Please Victoria, make me happy.)

“You know so little of war. Battles may be fought from the outside in, but wars are won from the inside out.”

Aside from the adorable Lila and her ability to banter with everyone, this book is quite dark. It remindend me a bit of Angelfall (another great trilogy), because of the funny, badass characters and at the same time the creepy atmosphere. Let’s say the rulers of White London will most likely freak you out, together with their antari (the only other antari left), Holland. He’s scary.

“Where did you get this?” he asked.
“In a pocket in your coat,” said Lila, stretching. “By the way, did youknow that your coat is more than one coat? I’m pretty sure I went though five or six to find that.”
Kell stared at her, slack-jawed.
“What?” she asked.
“How did you know what it was for?”
Lila shrugged. “I didn’t.”
“What if it had been poison?” he snapped.
“There’s really no winning with you.”

So, ADSOM is an original story, with incredible and unforgettable characters, and an amazing writing style. Really, what are you waiting for, read it!

manuela calloway sisters


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