Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic#1)

 Kell is one of 22055262the 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.


The excellent world-building, writing and unique concept make A Darker Shade of Magic the epitome of what I expect from a fantasy series. We are first introduced to Kell- a powerful magician, an Antari. He not only has control over all of the elements and has a magical coat with endless layers, but he is able to travel between Londons. Yes, there are parallel Londons in this story. Red London, Kell’s London, is a world where magic is common and worshiped. Grey London, where magic no longer exists. White London, where magic is literally sucking the life out of its people. And Black London, a world that has succumbed to magic and was destroyed.

Kell travels between Londons on errands for his king, and on one of these errands he crosses paths with Delilah Bard. Lila is cross-dressing thief who is looking for an adventure. When Kell meets her in Grey London, the two embark on an adventure to save not only one world, but three.

We are also introduced to a host of other interesting characers. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Rhy, the crown prince of Red London. Rhy and Kell are as close as brothers, and even refer to each other as such. Kell is “adopted” by the king and queen, although we have no background as to where Kell came from. Holland, the Antari White London, and the evil Dane twins also have their important parts to play.

I enjoyed this book. Everything about it was very good. Although I will say it was a bit slow for me. I was okay with it because I enjoyed Kell and Lila, I enjoyed the magic and parallel worlds, but not much happened until the last 30% or so. The world-building and character building was magnificent so I enjoyed the slow-build up. 

V.E. Schwab is a masterful storyteller and she has officially sucked me into her magical world. She created complex, interesting characters who I am eager to learn more about. If you are thinking about reading this series, I highly recommend it!




11 thoughts on “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic#1)”

  1. Lovely review, Alex! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book so much, though I agree with you about the slow-building. I didn’t mind too much because just like you, I found the world-building stunning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhhh this book!! I’m currently re-reading it in honour of A Conjuring of Light being released (I NEED IT omg) and it’s just as good as the first time, if not better. The world-building is so beautiful, I agree. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! ❤ Lovely review.

    Liked by 1 person

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