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

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
(Amazon|Book Depository|Goodreads)

Pages: 398
Source: Purchased
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Published by: Tor Books
Pubilcation Date: February 24th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Urban, Witches & Mages, Young Adult

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.


A darker shade of magic v.e. schwab review

First things first: THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. I hadn’t even heard of it until last month, but once I read the synopsis I had to get my grubby hands on it. It grabbed my attention mostly because it’s set in London(s) — oh yes, plural. MULTIPLE LONDON’S, people. With magic. Like, what? HOW COULD I RESIST? I love it when books are set in the city I live in because it makes me think magic is real… Which it is, really. Don’t even tell me otherwise, I can’t be reasoned with.

believe in magic you muggle

This is one of those special books wherein the more I thought about it after finishing it, the more and more I realised how much I loved it. I sat there and appreciated all the many different aspects of the book. I fell in love with the gorgeous writing, the unique take on magic, the special and complex characters, and the extraordinary world building. This is a magical and unforgettable book. 

“Are you ready?” she asked, spinning the chamber.
Kell gazed through the gate at the waiting castle. “No.”
At that, she offered him the sharpest edge of a grin.
“Good,” she said. “The ones who think they’re ready always end up dead.”

I’m not going to go into much detail about the plot or anything, because  I think it will be more magical for you if you actually read it, but I’m going to touch on what I loved about this book in 3 points.

The Memorable Characters

Just check out that fanart below. JUST CHECK IT. We have Kell, Lila, Prince Rhy, the Dane twins, and Holland. I loved the brotherly love between Rhy and Kell. There wasn’t much romance (if any) in this book, but that didn’t bother me at all – and normally I need my romance. That’s just going to show how much I enjoyed the story itself. Buuuut… I do think everything is just being set up for the next book. 😉 Oh, and, I WANT NEED KELL’S COAT.

dane twins and holland a darker shade of magic kell and lila kell and rhys 

“I apologise for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologise for shooting you in the leg. I was myself entirely.”

I really liked Lila and Kell (heck, I liked all the characters – even the evil ones!). They’re both so different but so similar to each other. Lila’s retorts are hilarious. The characters develop so much from the beginning to the end, and they are all incredibly distinguished and intriguing. I kind of wish there were even more characters.

The Unique Concept

There are four London’s, and it isn’t confusing at all. It’s rather glorious. There’s Red London where magic thrives, Grey London where there is no magic (this is probably our London), White London where magic is dying, and Black London where magic is dangerous and dead. Or, as Lila so eloquently put it:

“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.”

fo shizzle

The Gripping Plot

It started off a bit slow, but once I was about 150 pages in it was literally nonstop action. The evil characters were evil, and there were so many layers to the plot. So many different things still need to fall into place, AND I HAVE THEORIES. (Don’t I always?) View Spoiler »

Looking for trouble, he’d say. You’re gonna look till you find it.
Trouble is the looker, she’d answer. It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.
Why do you want to die?
I don’t, she’d say. I just want to live.

All in all, this is a great read and I’m so glad that the next book is coming out this month so I don’t have to wait ages to read it! 🙂 This book is actually in the “Adult” genre, although there is no sexual content (hopefully that is only for now though *evil laughter*).

Rating Report
Overall: 4.3 / 5

About V.E. Schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and when she is not wandering in search of buried treasure, fairy tales, and good tea, she’s tucked in a cafe, dreaming up monsters.
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  • Reply
    February 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I really liked this one! I found it quite confusing at first – the 4 Londons got a bit complicated, but once we had been introduced to them, I really liked it. I love magic too, so I knew I was going to love it! The characters were amazing too. I loved Kell and Lila – Kell’s coat is so cool, too! I hope you manage to get to the sequel later this month 🙂

    Denise | The Bibliolater

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      It was a bit confusing in the beginning, at one point I was like “what… which London are we in now?” haha. They are such amazing characters and I can’t wait to read the sequel! I hope you get to read it soon too! 😀 ♥

  • Reply
    Yvonne @ A World Between Folded Pages
    February 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    How do you do this?! You always make me SO EXCITED for the books and I just want to pick them up ASAP. It’s staring at me from my shelves … HELP, I THINK IT WANTS TO ATTACK ME!!!!

    Ahem. Anyway, I really, really liked this review! 4 Londons sound a little bit confusing at first but I’m sure I’ll like it as much as you did. I hope so. Especially the characters … ohhhh they sound GREAT! ♥ I guess I need to read it soooooon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 😀

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      YVONNNNEEEEE … How many times can I tell you that I LOVE your comments and they totally make my day?!? ♥♥♥

      I so cannot wait for you to read this, I think you will love it! WHEN YOU DO WE CAN FANGIRL TOGETHER! Hehehe. Also, the sequel is out so soon, whoop whoop! 😀

  • Reply
    Lois @ My Midnight Musing
    February 2, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    So happy you loved this book. I just finished re-reading it and I swear I love it even more. I absolutely love the characters. The dynamic between Kell and Lila was on point. I love seeing the two of them go from adversaries, to an extent to friends and partners (which will hopefully turn into more ;). This book is magical and I am so excited to see more of the worlds in A Gathering on Shadows.
    With regards to the spoiler section, I definitely agree with the Lila part and from what I can see from the early reviews there is no love triangle whatsoever, YAY.

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      It is so amazing and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out, I actually preordered it! Haha. NEED THE PRECIOUS. I haven’t read any reviews of the next one yet, going to try to avoid them (even though I normally read reviews before haha). So glad you loved this one too! ♥

  • Reply
    February 2, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    I want to read this one so badly! It sounds so incredible.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      It is really great, I hope you get to read it soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Gabi @ Let's Gab About Books
    February 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Oh my gosh I am so glad you loved this book so much! Hearing you rave about the characters, writing, and world building is getting me so so so excited, because this is next up on my TBR. I literally just bought it on Saturday! I find the idea of all the different Londons so interesting, and I can’t wait to watch the characters and worlds unfold. And oh my gosh the fan art you found is beautiful. I love this review, Anissa!! 🙂

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      Ahhh, Gabi, thank you so much!! *flails* ♥ I hope you get to read it soon, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for your review! I can’t wait for the sequel to come out later this month. Much excite.

  • Reply
    Mara @ Mara Was Here
    February 3, 2016 at 12:09 am

    I’m so glad you think this book is good! It’s currently on my On-Hold pile since I started reading it at the same time with Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel, until I realized I just can’t read both simultaneously. I’m hoping to continue reading it again soon though, so I hope I’ll come to love it like you do! Great review, Anissa! 🙂

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      I can never read more than one book at a time haha, I swear it’s like a superpower to be able to do that xD xD I hope you get to read this soon, Clockwork Angel was also really good! Thank you so much! 😀

  • Reply
    February 3, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Awesome review Anissa! This book sounds incredible and I’m so glad you enjoyed! Usually I eed a god romance to stck with a book because I’m a sucker for a good ship but if the plot is good enough and the characters are amazing then I should be able to overlook it. This really sounds like a great read that i’d enjoy!

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Alecia! So good to see you around again! 🙂 (I am secretly hoping you will start a blog soon, haha!) Thank you so much, I’d recommend this book! 😀

  • Reply
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland
    February 3, 2016 at 3:00 am

    I’ve heard so many great things about this and I’m very very certain I’ll love it! The characters and whole concept does sound so amazing. And if Scwab’s writing in this is as good as it is was in Vicious I’m sure to be blown away. Cannot wait to read it! (Hopefully sooner rather than later)

    P.S. Did you hear that this may be getting a TV Show?? And the script is going to be written by V.E. Schwab herself!

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm


      That is just sooo amazing! I hope you read this one soon, I think you’d really like it! I will keep my ears open and my eyes peeled for your review! 😀

  • Reply
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight
    February 3, 2016 at 3:13 am

    I LOVE when books just get better and better the more you think about them! Because that means they have all these deep aspects, and just ugh, yes. I really do want to read this book! And I’m like you, I like to have romance in my books, but, if the story is good enough, it won’t bother me if it’s not there. I’m really looking forward to all these unique characters now 😀

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      YESSS, it means they are extra special 😀 I think you will really like this one, I’ll be really curious to read your review! If I somehow miss it, please DM it to me somehow!! 😀 ♥

  • Reply
    February 3, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for this, I have been looking for another book to read.

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      You’re welcome! 😀

  • Reply
    Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing
    February 3, 2016 at 11:01 am

    You had me at “nonstop action”. This book sounds good, I am adding it to my TBR 🙂

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      YESSS, I think you will like it! I will be so curious to read your review! 😀

  • Reply
    February 4, 2016 at 4:34 am

    This sounds absolutely glorious! And I love that type of dry humour as well, ‘I apologise for shooting you in the leg. I was myself entirely’. Ohhh love it! I’m a massive fan of world building when it comes to fantasy, not being a true fantasy reader, I find it hard to get into the storyline and it sometimes feels as though I’ve been dropped in the middle of a plotline and I can’t grasp what’s going on. But this sounds so incredibly well written, I can’t wait to start it too! Wonderful review poppet and gorgeous photo! <3

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      AAAH, Kelly thank you so so much!! ♥♥ *flails* I know, I love dry humour too! There was a lot of it in this one and it was done really well. The world building was a bit confusing at the beginning, but once you start understanding everything it is really good. I hope you read it soon! 😀

  • Reply
    February 5, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Clearly, I need to get my butt in gear and pick this one up. If you loved it, I’m almost positive I will too. The characters sound glorious and the evil characters sound glorious evil. Much excite.

    • Reply
      February 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      YAS, I think you will really like it! You need it in your life. 😉

  • Reply
    February 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I’m glad you love it! It’s one of my best reads in 2015! I love everything about the world building and the characters, even though I disliked Lila. I love the bromance between Rhy and Kell, and I wish to see more Holland 🙁 I love your tag badges, it’s so unique! Amazing review! <3

    • Reply
      March 13, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      Thank you so much, hehe! 😀 Yes, this was such a gorgeous book! I have yet to read AGOS but I have it waiting for me on my shelf xD

  • Reply
    February 8, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    I’m currently in the process of REreading this and I’m loving it just as much the second time around! That fan art is STUNNING <3 I'm glad you enjoyed this book, I'm always wishing more people would read it!

    • Reply
      March 13, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      It is such a glorious book! I have AGOS sitting on my shelf now, I really need to read it soon. I’m so nervous for the ending though, I’ve heard it’s intense! xD

  • Reply
    Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab - Readers In Wonderland
    March 24, 2016 at 7:01 am

    […] tend to fear the hype and I was hesitant I wasn’t going to like this. Once I read my friend Anissa’s review at She Reads Too Much, I knew I was going to love ADSOM. (We have pretty similar taste in […]

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