A Darker Shade of Magic Review

You’re just here for the rating? Well, it’s 3.5 stars, but why not read on to find out why?

As anyone who has seen my Youtube channel will know, I posted my first review on Thursday, and I am aware that it is rather long and rambling >< I promise that I am working on my editing and format, so hopefully the next one (which is of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and will be posted either on Thursday or Friday) will be more enjoyable. However, I still want to talk about the novel I discussed, namely A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab.

For those of you interested in YA fiction, you may already be aware of/have read her Archived series, or her Everyday Angel series, or one of her standalone works. I was a complete Schwab virgin (crikey, that’s a sentence I never thought I would write), but I read a Buzzfeed article which listed it, and it immediately pricked my interest. My mum bought it for me for Christmas, but I didn’t get around to reading it until last week, and I pretty much inhaled it! I really, really wanted to talk about this book.

Main characters:

  • Kell – A 21 year old man who is Antari (i.e. can use blood magic), and can traverse from one world to another, delivering messages as well as illicit trinkets. Hails from Red London.
  • Lila Bard – A 19 year old woman from Grey London. A cut-purse and aspiring pirate, she is drawn into aiding Kell through her lust for adventure.
  • Rhy – The 20 year old prince of Red London. Dashing and charming, he thinks of Kell as his brother.
  • Athos and Astrid Dane – Twins, and king and queen of White London. They are a force to be reckoned with, and nurture a yearning for power.
  • Holland – The Dane’s messenger, and the only other known Antari. Something about him always seems a bit off to Kell, but maybe that’s just White Londoners?


Plot Overview:

  • There are four Londons which exist in parallel universes: Grey, Red, White, and Black. Grey is our own London in 1819, during the reign of Mad King George III, and is a place of little magic. Red is rich in magic in resources, and is ruled by a just and good king and queen. White is a place starving for magic (which equals power), and seeks to dominate it rather than work with it. And Black has been destroyed, having been eaten up by magic running wild, and leading to the sealing off of the other world from each other by Red London.
  • The story centres on Kell, who delivers messages from the royal family in Red London to the ones in Grey and White, and illegally smuggles artifacts between worlds for his own collection, and for those interested in such trinkets.
  • He mistakenly acquires an artifact from Black London and brings it to Red, where he is attacked and is forced to escape to Grey. With Lila’s help, he must return it to Black London, while being pursued by enemy forces.


Elements that Furrowed my Field:

  • I felt that the concept, which drew me to it initially, was unique. The role of rare, dangerous blood magic has been seen in fantasy literature, and parallel worlds is a key feature in sci fi novels, but bringing them together worked so well, and with such effective simplicity.
  • The structure of the book is logical and works well. The first third or so builds up the world itself and introduces all the characters, so we know where we are before all the action kicks off, and we can then sit back and enjoy the ride.
  • The flipping of the narrative (standard third person format) between Kell and Lila (and occasionally other characters) works well, mostly because both of the characters are compelling and very different, and Schwab really manages to find the most gripping moments to switch.


Elements that Furrowed my Brow:

  • The plot is very fast-moving, and in some cases, it would have been nice to linger in places. At one point, a masquerade is held to celebrate Prince Rhy’s birthday, and Lila manages to land herself in a swanky male costume (as she is want to do). Instead of her immediately getting on with furthering the plot, it would have been nice to see her interacting in her usual sassy manner with all the posh guests.
  • While the book wraps the plot up very neatly at the end, it would have been nice to see elements of what will come in the next book, although this might just be how I like to read a series.



  • Nice world(s), and great characters who I definitely want to meet again. I will definitely be purchasing the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, sometime soon.


I hoped you liked my review! Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? Do you agree with what I’ve said, or not? If you haven’t read it, does it sound like something that might butter your crumpet? Let me know!

Check back next week for my review of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, thank you for reading 🙂

Some links if you feel like seeing where else I linger:





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s