Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic #1

Genre/s: Adult, Fantasy, High fantasy, Magic, Adventure

My rating: 4/5 stars

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 have been wanting to read something from Schwab for quite some time now, and I finally got my hands on A Darker Shade of Magic! So many of my friends from Instagram keep hyping me up about it, and so many readers are in the fandom. The exclusive collector’s edition looks gorgeous—fitting for such a great story!

The writing

The writing style was great! Although the author uses deeper words/vocabulary from time to time, it was so easy to read. It was fantasy fiction, but it doesn’t feel all to complicated for me as a reader.

I love how the author told the story. She jumped from various point of views, settings, and stories. For me it just made it more mysterious, and of course, that just made me curious for more.

I also love the dialogues in this book. They were witty, sarcastic, and they really helped shaped the characters. I really love that.

Despite all of these though, I still feel like it’s missing something. It was great, a solid read for me and I loved it. However, it didn’t entirely take my breath away. I was waiting for something that will really shock me or hook me as a reader (and I guess the world-building did, but I was expecting something from the story line itself).

The characters

The characters were awesome! I really loved Kell. He can be ruthless and cold, but he was also very passionate about a few things and a few people. I particularly loved how he didn’t shy away from his flaws. He admitted to himself that he was scared; he was quite insecure about his past; and he was also uncertain about his place in royal family. Kell’s character was built well and written carefully, and I really applaud the author for this.

I also loved Lila! She can come off as annoying (a little bit haha!), but she was brave and fierce, and above anything else, she craved adventure, she craved to see the world.

Holland was a very interesting character for me and I just wanted to know more about him and his situation. The Dane twins frustrated me and scared me, I’m not gonna lie. And Rhy, oh I want more of Rhy’s charm! I wish I could see more of him in the next book.

The plot

The plot was fairly easy to follow. It was interesting and mysterious, and just enough to make me turn the page. We see Kell get trapped and tricked. We see him discover this powerful magic that could just destroy everything in their world. We see him and Lila reluctantly team up for this impossible quest. (I’m going to stop talking so I don’t spoil you! Hahaha!)

I really was looking for something shocking though, some sort of plot twist or just a part of the story that will really take my breath away. Hopefully, I see what I’m looking for in the next book!

The world-building

The world-building is enthralling! It’s perhaps my favorite part in this book! It was just so intricate, and beautiful, and magical—I’m positive I’m in love with it. I loved how the author built this world, the magic system, and every part of it. I also loved how the author also took the time to really craft the Arnesian and Antari language. It was beautiful!

I’m also very fond of parallel universes/alternate universes, so the idea of four Londons just really excited me the very first time I’ve heard of this book. I just knew that the world-building will be awesome!

Quotes from the book 

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

“Bad magic, Kell had called it.
No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.
And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week.”

“You look more ready to storm a city than seduce a man.”

“Some people steal to stay alive, and some steal to feel alive. Simple as that.”

“A life worth having is a life worth taking.”


4 stars for this book! Not bad for my first ever Schwab book yaayy! Can’t wait to read the next one! How about you guys? Have you already read this? What were your thoughts?

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