QBD Reviews: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

darker shade

In a world of magic, intrigue, politics and parallel universes, Kell is one of the last surviving Antari; able to travel between the universes at will, his position in Red London is an illustrious one. Raised alongside the heir of throne, revered by the people and employed as a messenger to carry communications to the ruling elite of Grey and White London, he has comfort, wealth and excitement in his life – but it is a life he feels is not entirely his own.

Taking up smuggling artefacts between the universes – a hobby declared illegal by all of the London’s rulers – Kell has a broad variety of shifty customers willing to part with large sums of money for the smallest of trinkets. Normally his side business goes off without a hitch… until he gets his hands on something someone else would apparently kill to own. Until he meets Lila Bard, pickpocket extraordinaire, during a trip to Grey London and loses the prized treasure to her nifty fingers. Until he commits high treason by transporting the girl back to Red London in exchange for his artefact returned. Suddenly the two find themselves caught in a game far more deadlier then they’d expected and what began as an adventure swiftly turns into a race against time to save the worlds.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a rich, engrossing tale that pulls you in with its promise of magic and adventure and has you hooked within seconds. The complex web of characters that the London’s produce are shockingly tangible, relatable even through their unique, expertly weaved stories, and the overall experience is a curiosity in itself. With strands plucked from each of the London’s and forced together in an explosion of barely controlled chaos, you never know what to expect next but there’s an underlying pulse of secrets, lies and subterfuge that drives that ‘need-to-know’ feeling that will have you turning pages until you hit the end, screaming “NOOOOOOOOO!”.

Don’t worry: the follow up, A Gathering of Shadows, is already out… and it’s amazing as well. You’re welcome.