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Fantasy Friday: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

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.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then 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.

Amazon Link: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

Author: V. E. Schwab

Genre: Portal fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars

Another great book from V. E. Schwab with their emotional depth and unique magic. This time, they created three entire worlds and the threads that connect them in a rich tapestry of description. Each of the Londons comes to life in a distinct way.

This book held my attention from start to finish, with a slow build that led to a huge payoff. It’s like a freight train that may seem to start slow but before you know it, it’s barrelling toward you at an unstoppable speed to the horrible, inevitable conclusion.

I loved both main characters and their interactions. Kell and Lila each had their own understandable motivations, but they had to overcome their differences and work together. I also liked Kell’s bond with his brother. They could have easily hated each other because of their separate backgrounds, but instead they loved each other even when they disagreed. So it made sense that Kell took the actions he did to save his brother.

I thought the ending would be worse because it seemed like there was no way out, but things sort of worked out while setting up more for the next book. I can’t wait to read the next book and catch up on this series before the next trilogy, Threads of Power, comes out.

Here is the book in my reading journal:


I'm an author, a blogger, and a nerd. I read and write fantasy.