A review by mariebrunelm
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

adventurous dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Kell is a thief by choice. Lila is a thief by necessity. The former can travel across different Londons, turning his manifold coat on the side relevant to the place to blend in or stand out. The latter is stuck in her Grey London, looking for one thing: escape. Of course the two were bound to meet. But what happens when they do might very well change the destinies of both.
This book was objectively excellent. I love V.E. Schwab’s way with words. She can turn a phrase as delightful as Leigh Bardugo and the two are equally good at crafting a narrative that will hook you but also leave many hints that you will or will not get.
In A Darker Shade of Magic, it’s not really about who’s good and who’s bad. It’s all a matter of perspective, really, and the real baddies (because yes, there are a couple of truly awful people) are not the antagonists. This is one of the things the author highlighted in her video series that serves as a readalong, and I loved that distinction. I love that big phrases such as “villains” or “saving the world” aren’t relevant in this book. The focus is on the intricacies of characters’ motivations and relationships, and it makes for a much more delectable reading experience in my opinion.
I’m so sad that I didn’t get the spark of a favourite book when reading this one, because I cannot find any fault in it. I loved every aspect of it. Maybe that’s just a matter of the moment I read it, when I was craving a different type of book, with less magic. But this book is still excellent and I highly recommend it.
Rep: the vibe is very queer without any label assigned to the characters.


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