To experience magic, one must peel the layers of their eyes back and be prepared to be enraptured by something wordless, formless, and mysterious. Magic weaves and bobs throughout the story of A Darker Shade of Magic and ultimately it is what creates the story itself. Magic is the backbone. I believe it is a talent to be able to write a fantasy fiction narrative that is able to reach wide audiences. V.E. Schwab does so effortlessly; no wonder this book has taken the literary world by its coattails and makes everyone pay attention. The anticipation to finally read the book has been building up for some time, so I was quite excited to sink my teeth into its rich pages. After a few disappointing reads, I was hoping Schwab’s novel would ease some of the reader stagnation I was experiencing. A Darker Shade of Magic far exceeded my expectation, and it lit a reading fire in me that was just a bit dulled. The novel is a web of mystery shrouded in darkness and magic, but getting lost among the chaos is all you’ll want after diving in the story. Schwab is creating a world among worlds, and I’m here for it. The pages melt beneath your fingers, but not in a sanguine and buoyant way. Instead, the pages sink into you like hot wax, searing the skin, all the while satisfying the desire and curiosity that edges on you for more.
Imagine London centuries ago. The image is building in your mind. The streets, the people, the alleys. Now fill London with magic. Then, layer on another London. A preexisting world that is in another domain, another existence. Lastly, add two more Londons, to create a total of four Londons, all the same, but different as their atmosphere exists in contrasting planes. There is Red London-a place where life and magic is rich and dwelling. Grey London- harbors in a grungy corner, lacking magic’s tough. White London-cold, brutal, magic-thirsty and ruled by tyrants. Then, there’s Black London, whose magic once ruled so strong, it pushed the land and its people out of existence and remains only a distant tale seldom told. The main protagonist Kell is someone or something called Antari or blood magician or Traveler. He acts as an ambassador and adopted brother to the Prince of Red London. Kell can traveler between the worlds and goes on tasks to deliver letters between the rulers of the Londons. There is a looming darkness that emerges and Kell becomes trapped in the surfacing danger. With the help of the fiery, pickpocketing pirate Delilah Bard, Kell must control the spilling of blood and magic before it’s too late.
This was such an incredible reading experience and I’m so happy I partook in all the hoopla that surrounded A Darker Shade of Magic. This book encompassed everything a fantasy novel should. Schwab created worlds where it’s easy to get lost in and her writing style is effortless, pulling you right in. I am a huge fan of her novel and I can’t wait to read A Gathering of Shadows, the next book in the series. The story isn’t hard to get into, and the use of magic is really interesting that it keeps it quite entertaining. During my read, there are bits that really remind me of Harry Potter and it also has a very Lord of Ring-esque plot feel to it. I enjoyed the character Kell as he has a quiet mysteriousness about him which I like. Delilah or Lila took me a while to warm up to as some of her actions annoyed me, but overall I think she’s going to prove to be a key character in the stories to come. This book was phenomenal and I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed every moment of it, and I would highly recommend this novel. You won’t be disappointed.