I’m just going to put it out there: the best fantasy book I’ve read since the Name of the Wind. I recently buddy read this book with a bookstagram buddy of mine, Lauren. She just started a blog too so check her out (https://lausreadsbooks.wordpress.com) and on instagram (@lausreadsbooks) – she has some amazing pictures. P.S. how good is it that the bookstagram community can bring people together from all over the place? I love having people to gush about books with and definitely recommend the experience of a buddy read! Anyway back to the review. Book is great. Go read it.
A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, an Antari magician who is one of the last people who can travel between the worlds. Worlds he keeps track of by naming them after colours, his beautiful Red London, dreary Grey London and dangerous White London. Then there is Black London, sealed off to all. As an emissary for the royalty between the worlds he gets himself into trouble in his unofficial role of smuggler and so the tale begins.
Personally, I’m very proud at the restraint I showed while reading this book. Purely because of my buddy read I didn’t plough through it all as I probably usually would. As a result I enjoyed savouring the story and the characters. I found the best part of this book was that the story was no cliche. In fact, bravo to Schwab for not introducing any form of romance to this book (again, not that I’m again it) purely as it was a nice change to not have romantic interests as a focal point of the plot. Each of the worlds described in the book were unique and vivid, each with their own role to play in the storyline. I enjoyed visiting the different worlds with Kell learning about the nuances of each one.
One of the highlights of the book was the characters. Kell is fascinating, both physically and mentally and there is clearly a lot more room for growth over the remainder of the trilogy for his character. His unknown past is clearly going to come up at some point. Lila also is a whole other kettle of fish. Lord, self-assured and resourceful she is a strong female character, always a positive in my books, although her soft side is evident at times. I look forward to seeing both of their characters develop in the future. Not to mention a whole host of supporting characters, like Barron, Gen and Parrish, who all play minor roles in the story, yet I somehow grew so attached to them. Character development is clearly Schwab’s forte.
The book took on many twists and turns (ahhh, can’t wait to discuss with my book buddy) with a satisfying ending but so much potential for the future. I have to say next on my list of things to do is to purchase A Gathering of Shadows. I really can’t wait to return to the world of Kell, Lila and all the Londons. Definitely a highlight in the many books I have read this year. I give A Darker Shade of Magic five ships for Lila, may she find what she is looking for.