Book Review: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V. E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Yes - first book of trilogy


a darker shade of magic

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

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and 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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I found a review for this book, and I am cringing!

A wonderfully written book, very inventive and page-turning.

My favourite character is Kell by far – so conflicted between his family and the control he feels they exert. Also Rhy is great (I wish we saw more of him in this book!). I do like Lila too, all her boldness and coolness.

I completely agree with it, but “boldness and coolness”? Seriously? Worst thing about this, this review was less than two years old. *Run away and buries my head*

Yes, Kell is my favourite. The tension between Rhy and the crown is great (and Rhy is always a win. If I had any complaints about this book is that he’s hardly in it). Plus Kell’s so serious and rarely gets the joke. The three of them play off each other so well, and there’s a well-worn familiarity between Kell and Rhy.

I adore this book, and my copy bears the brunt of my love – not to mention I’ve actually lent this book out. I never do that (except to my sister, as I can watch her reading to ensure she doesn’t damage it).

The magic system is so much fun. Elemental magic is always a hit with me, but this has an added dimension of blood magic. I loved how the exploration of the cost also builds Rhy and Kell’s relationship (the recounting of the Shadows). Not to mention the black stone magic. It’s so unsettling – as Lila says, clever magic not bad magic.

The world building is superb. From the languages scattered throughout (with enough short examples that you get an idea of the basic syntax without it obstructing the flow) to the smells and colours of the world, it’s so vivid. I want to live in Red London, see the crimson Isle (River Thames).

Read my review of other books by V. E./Victoria Schwab:


Shades of Magic (this series):



Young Adult:

The Archived:


Middle Grade:

Cassidy Blake:

Everyday Angel:

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