Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic


Author: V. E. Schwab
Published: Titan Books, 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Read more about it on Add it on Goodreads
4 out of 5 stars
Untitled design (5)
Multiple worlds. Multiple London’s: Grey London, Red London, White London and Black London. Only the Antari can travel between these worlds, which means only two people: Kell and Holland. One belongs to the Red court, Kell, and the other belongs to the White court, Holland. When parts of these worlds begin to collide, mayhem follows.

With a title such as A Darker Shade of Magic, how could I not be intrigued? I love me some magic! I have heard good things about Victoria Schwab’s books, so had high hopes for liking this – which I did.

From the very first page I was captivated by the writing:

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat.
“It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.”

For some reason, it just called to me… The particular way it was phrased…I just loved it! I do love a good first page – who doesn’t? The thing with great first pages though, is that it has to continue that way; it has to retain your attention throughout the whole book. It ebbed and flowed a bit during parts of the book, for me – but honestly, I don’t know if this was just because of the mood I was in. My usual need to read, sadly wasn’t as great as usual. The more I read though, the more this lessened, to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading. Magic is a huge plus in my opinion – mention magic and you reel me right in. I’m instantly listening. So, the idea of Antari – it really is quite troublesome though, having to draw blood so often – and traces of magic residing in everything, fascinates me. I wonder what elemental magic I would have? – if I weren’t Antari of course. I think it would be water or air… See, what I mean? I get caught up in all the magic.

So, aside from magic, I also liked the characters. Kell is a loyal and honourable character, whom is willing to risk his own happiness for others. His relationship with his brother Rhy is sweet and truly tugged at my heartstrings, at times; I felt their love for each other. I admire the fact that Kell believes that killing should never become easier, and he is someone I would like to know. Rhy is just a sweetheart. Such a kind soul. The sooner he realises that it is his strength of character and not his magical abilities that will one day make him a great leader, the better.

Holland, although, certainly a villain, is a more complex case. Certainly not likeable, you can however empathise with him to a certain degree, because of what Athos did to him.

Last, but certainly not least, Lila. “Lila Bard knew in her bones that she was meant to be a pirate.” What a great line! She is such a firecracker. Her whole being longs for freedom; to be free of Grey London and to know that there’s more out there. Lilas’ constant need for freedom, I can find relatable. Her spirit is somewhat infectious and it’s touching to see Lila allow herself to care about someone else after being alone for so long. She always stays true to herself. The story could have seen Lila wearing a fancy dress at some point – you know the drill where the girl ends up all dressed up and a guy goes “wow!” like he’s now only truly seeing her for the first tine, that old cliché – but Schwab didn’t take that route, and instead allowed Lila to stay true to herself, by of course cross-dressing as a man. I found myself appreciating Schwab for doing this.

It was enjoyable to see Kell and Lila, two strangers, grow closer and become friends. Lila got her adventure and Kell didn’t have to endure this arduous trial alone. Part of me wasn’t particularly happy with the ending, but I have a feeling that it will not stay this way for long. I’m having to be cryptic here, so I don’t reveal any spoilers, so am having trouble explaining what it is I’m not happy about.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to the sequel to see where life takes them. I miss them already.

“‘I’m not going to die,’ she said.
‘Not till I’ve seen it’.
‘Seen what?’ Her smile widened. ‘Everything. ‘”

Who else loves magic? I’m sure you’re all going, “Me. Me. Me”, with your hands in the air, like you just don’t care… Sorry, I broke into song then. Anyway, back to the book…. Who else has fallen in love a little with these characters?


13 thoughts on “Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

  1. You’re so silly in your reviews. But yes, gotta love the magic! I love the unlimited amount of possibilities it provides and learning about how it’s existence impacts the world created by the author. It’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to reading this one. And, of course, I’m happy to hear there are some great characters in there (you know me, I’m especially looking forward to meeting Holland). Great review 🙂


    1. Silly how? I do not know what you mean… 😉 Haha, what is it with you and all the book villains? Why the bad boys in books and so different in real life? Dave doesn’t strike me as a bad boy. It’s fascinating, really….

      Omg, I got a “great review” from blogging royalty, lol. That means a lot! I’m off to shed a tear of joy now, and laugh because I am being silly. 😀


  2. *raises hand* hahahaha, you are entertaining. I’m also a little in love with these characters AND with these covers. The UK cover was my favorite for the first book, but WOW is the US cover amazing for the second book. I enjoyed reading your thought process about the magic in the book. 🙂 I also love that quote at the end. There’s a reason everyone who’s read this book quotes it!


    1. Hahaha, thanks! 🙂 Yes, they do have great covers, which is always a plus. Magic fascinates me, and I am always thoroughly disappointed that it doesn’t exist, lol – maybe it does, and some very mean people aren’t letting me in on the secret. One can hope, right? 😉 It is such a great quote! – I didn’t actually realise so many people quote it.


      1. Yep, definitely still hoping. I’m still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. Maybe I just haven’t grown into my magical abilities yet. I would totally go to Hogwarts as an old lady. 😉


      2. Maybe our owls are off on an adventure together. I can picture us as 80-year-old ladies, sitting in the common room knitting together and yelling at the First Years. Haha.


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