A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

earlapvaldez's review

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Absolutely loved Schwab's world-building and the way she describes her characters and their actions. Can't wait for the second book!

boookishbrit's review

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This one took FOREVER to finish but I did it!

kingmissinne's review

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I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical, because while I was browsing I came across this and saw some sketchy suggestions based on Schwab's work. This admitted prejudice hit me dead in the face, with the story reeling me in after only 2 short chapters. Combine the very fast pacing with a whimsical writing style with and two interesting main characters, both of which have mysterious pasts and you can see why.

Kell, our Antari (blood mage) from 'Red London' and Delilah, a thief from Grey London respectively, live in separate yet similar cities: There are 4 parallel worlds, with London acting as the focal point. Focal point being that, due to some strange coincidence, the worlds are entirely different but London is always there and is always called London, even if the countries have different names. Some buildings are even in the exact same place.

After / at the end of the first act of this book, which consists of some origin & character exploration/exposition, our main characters meet and get into some trouble. They get hold of a macguffin with a lot of pure magical power, giving them no other choice than to cross worlds. After meeting kings & queens, mages and witches & being chased by royalty from a different world, in the second and third act, it leaves the reader with an open and bittersweet ending.

Summarizing the story is hard without spoilers, so that was my best guess. That said, it was a good story even though it had its flaws. There was a certain subplot that continuously gave me a sense of dread throughout my entire experience, only to fall flat and have little to no relevance at the end of the novel. There are 2 other books in this trilogy so this may change, but for now this was a bit of a dud. The main plot though, was great. You can clearly see that Schwab already had a lot of different things planned well beforehand, including the history of our characters. Lots of implications about said history!

Both our main characters go through a nicely planned out character arc and undergo a (small) transformation, while staying true to themselves. The side characters are generally one-dimensional, but there are some of them that really stick out with their own unique voice. One of the villains for example, is a minor character, but lives a well-written tragedy.

Worldbuilding-wise, it was nice to see a city we all know in a different light (literally) than we're used to. This gives a sense of wonder, while still keeping us grounded and familiar because 'our' London is also in there. The magic system is kind of soft and plays well into the story of the last 2 Antari (Kell and Holland, whom you'll meet early on) and has a great role in the bigger picture of the story as well.

I enjoyed this read so much that I have already ordered the rest of the trilogy, on the same day after finishing it. An easy 4 and a half stars!

leouwerkerk's review

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adventurous dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


anatta's review

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It`s not bad, but not really exiting ether. The writing is good, solid and author plays with words very well. But to me this story, characters, all of them feels a bit empty, like a doll play. And the plot has its quirks and curiose details, but overall it is same old story about the darkness, temptations and payment for your deeds. It was a good way to spend my time in the train but i don't think i really that interested to take next in the series.

kyeruhh's review

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adventurous dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


I had heard a lot of great things abt this book and was disappointed. The first 2/3 were very slow and the last 1/3 went by almost too fast. The final fight scenes felt rushed, to the point I completely missed when
SpoilerHollands body was sent into Black London
. Overall, and interesting concept for sure but it definitely left something to be desired. 

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ryleeiscool's review

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adventurous dark fast-paced


reading_some_books's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging emotional tense medium-paced


dragnfary's review

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oh my gosh I absolutely loved this book. I love the way Victoria writes, she writes her heroines so strong and so independent and so stubborn. I just adore it. I love how they don't have to be the wilted flower. I can't wait to read the next two books in the series and see how Kell and Delilah's relationship develops and changes. I love the multiple London's the different colors and how different each city is even though it's the same city. Victoria is so creative in the way she writes magic.

morganemcb's review against another edition

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Oh, boy, I need to talk about this perfection.

I admire Victoria Schwab so much. I’d only read The Savage Song before starting ASDOM and I was told it was her best work so far, so obviously I had high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed a bit. As long as there are royalty, pirates, criminals and magic, I’m totally in.

First : the world is pure genius. At some point, it’s hard to find books of fantasy or dystopia with an original plot, but Victoria Schwab surely did it. Our characters live in a world where there are exactly four Londons (so British ! *tea time*). And Kell, our hero, is one of the few who can travel through them all. Man, this book was dark and I loved that. V.E. Schwab takes the time to explain everything to us without giving to many useless details and I’m sure there’s still plenty to tell. About the world, but also about Kell ; where he comes from, what he can do etc.

Well, while we’re at it, let’s talk about this amazing young man! Kell is the adopted prince of Red London’s royal family, next to his brother Rhy, the future king. Thanks to his ability, he has the duty to travel through all the Londons in order to communicate with every royal family. But Kell is a smuggler before being a prince and gosh, he’s so badass. I mean… HE WALKS BETWEEN WORLDS AND HAS THIS AWESOME JACKET YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT (so read the book). But what I liked is that Kell’s not cold-hearted. He’s also loving and sensitive, we can already know about his fears and insecurities, and that made me want to hug him forever.

Lila is a pure gem. I heard that people didn’t like the book because of her and that really broke my heart. I don’t understand why. Lila is a tomboy thief and an aspiring pirate. All she wants is to live an adventure. And for that, she’s ready to do anything, even if that leads to her death. She may be cold and selfish sometimes but hey : you don’t know why she’s like that. I’m sure she had a terrible childhood and that’s not as if she was a cold-blooded slayer ! She’s an independent and badass girl who’s just trying to survive. Plus, we can see she cares about Kell. One thing’s sure : I’ll protect her no matter what.

Rhy is a really great character too and I really hope we’ll see him more in book 2! He’s the kind of prince who enjoys life as much as possible, and I specially loved the way he loves and protects his brother Kell. They’d do anything for the other (we actually have the proof of that).

Concerning the « love affairs », I have to say… it was perfect. No insta love, thank God (or Victoria), and a relationship between Kell and Lila that is more of friendship than love for now.