Book Review | A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab


Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publishers: Tor Books

Publication Date: February 24th, 2015

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Goodreads synopsis:

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.

I really enjoyed this book, but it’s completely confused my emotions. Was it a great book? Yes, but I’m not sure it quite lived up to the hype that’s been surrounding it since its release day.

Let’s start with what was awesome: the world within this book. Our author is very good at world building, and I constantly found myself getting lost in whichever London the book had taken me to.

I loved the writing! I did struggle initially to get into the style, but I think I can put that down to the fact I’ve been binge-ing on easy-read contemporaries recently, so switching to such detailed, fantasy writing was quite a shock. However, once I was a few sections in I had adjusted to the style, and was lost within the novel.

‘Lila Bard knew in her bones that she was meant to be a pirate.’

Our characters were pretty cool – they were an interesting bunch with their individual personalities, and I enjoyed the humour that they seemed to share, too. The issue I had was that I didn’t really relate to any of them, and if I’m perfectly honest, I wasn’t really bothered about what happened to them, either. I didn’t feel any type of emotional connection, and it was only towards the end that I really started to care about what happened.

I have to mention we had a cross-dressing character! I think Lila might actually be the first cross-dressing character I’ve personally come across in a YA novel, and it was awesome to see this type of representation going on.

I was very much hooked in the story-line; I was eager to find out what happened next, and was disappointed when the book finished – I wanted more! I didn’t want it to end! The only thing that’s perhaps making me hesitate about reading the next novel would be the gore. I’m not a person for gore, and though many wouldn’t class the descriptions in this novel as gory, they were rather detailed (for me, anyways).

‘Word of mouth was its own kind of magic.’

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It’s completely deserving of the four stars I’ve given it, but unfortunately I just didn’t connect enough with it for it to be five stars. If you enjoy epic YA fantasy novels, I can’t recommend A Darker Shade of Magic enough!

Topic Awareness:

  • Death (detailed)
  • Violence / Gore (detailed)


– Emma

Read On!

5 thoughts on “Book Review | A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

    1. Ah you should! Yeah, that sort of happened a little bit for me – I went in expecting it to be the best fantasy I’d read for the year, and though it was really good, it wasn’t quite what I’d been led to believe it would be.

      Liked by 1 person

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