A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel by V. E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel

byV. E. Schwab

Hardcover | February 24, 2015

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A Darker Shade of Magic, from #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab

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.

"A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale...This is a book to treasure."-Deborah Harkeness, New York Times bestselling author of the All Souls trilogy

Shades of Magic series
1. A Darker Shade of Magic
2. A Gathering of Shadows
3. A Conjuring of Light

V. E. Schwab's first adult novel, Vicious, debuted to critical praise and reader accolades. Schwab is the author of YA novels The Near Witch, The Archived, and The Unbound. She is also currently writing a fantasy middle grade series with Scholastic.
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Title:A Darker Shade of Magic: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 8.41 × 5.78 × 1.36 inPublished:February 24, 2015Publisher:Tom Doherty AssociatesLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0765376458

ISBN - 13:9780765376459

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Equal Parts Thrilling And Fascinating A bit bloody at times, but what's life - or a good tale - without a little danger? I debated for the longest time on reading this book, but after finishing it just this afternoon, I'm very glad I decided to pick it up and give it a chance. I'm now reading the second novel, A Gathering Of Shadows, and falling under Schwab's spell all over again. Her unique talent of weaving a world and a tale is unrivaled; I'm extremely impressed and more than a little surprised that this book lived up to its hype. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow!! The concept of this book is what lured me to it, its delivery and execution is what grabbed me hook, line and sinker. Schwab writes of four parallel worlds that exists simultaneously in a very cohesive story that blends and flows beautifully. Each London is slightly different from the next but it is kept clearly defined and rich with imagery. It is a complex but simple world that explains itself as the story unfolds. The characters in ADSOM are all amazing, whether they were hero or villain. Kell and Lila are the main focus of this story and their interactions are equal amounts of boldness and seriousness that made for an amazing duo. Not to mention, they are both seriously bad ass! Kell is the type of character that you love to root for from the very beginning. He is all business, loyal and fiercely protective but his serious manner makes him come off as a little aloof. But make no mistake, he is also very loving and caring to those he holds dear. After all, he is risking his life to protect and save everyone. I can not forget to mention his coat. I won’t go into detail about this because I feel that the magic of the coat should be experienced firsthand. All I can say is, we all need a coat like Kell’s. Delilah “Lila” Bard is a fierce, in your face, kind of character. She is a little rough around the edges and navigates her life as a thief. She is the type to never show fear or doubt and faces every challenge head on. I really enjoyed her spunk and never once thought she was anything but a great addition to the story. As tough as she may seem, there is another softer layer to her that makes you like her that much more. The remainder cast of characters were, as I mentioned, amazing! The villains were written in such a way that you couldn’t help but love them. They were perfectly evil and cunning. I can not neglect to mention Kell’s brother/best friend Rhy. He is your typical spoiled brat prince who just might be slightly promiscuous and, if I understood correctly, bisexual. But his character goes well beyond that and he is a very likable character. I feel that there is so much more in store for him and I certainly hope to see a great deal more of Rhy in the next installments. A Darker Shade of Magic is one of those books that lays a great foundation for the rest of the story. Where this book may not be cover to cover action, it established the world very well and held my interest from page one. I would highly recommend this book, if not the series. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastical Don't be intimidated by the premise: a magician who can jump between four different dimensions and the chaos that ensues - the plot is super quick and the world building is easy to understand. Loved it!
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVE THIS SERIES Its honestly a perfect trilogy, I love these characters and they world is so creative and and nothing like I've ever read before! So excited for the special edition!!
Date published: 2017-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal This book was so good! I'm extremely excited to start the next novel in this trilogy. I loved the characters and the alternate versions of London. The concept and idea behind this whole trilogy is amazing and I would definitely recommend reading it.
Date published: 2017-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from SO GOOD Such a wonderful magical world with even more wonderful and magical princes
Date published: 2017-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yes!! I really liked this book! I was a little nervous, since there was a bit of hype, but I completely fell in love with Kell (anyone else get a Newt Scamander vibe?) and the whole magical world. I really enjoyed the characters and their relationships. Loved the magic and how it was presented. Like I said, I loved Kell, and I really like Lila. Even though she's younger than me, I want to be her when I grow up! She's so adventurous and brave and badass! I think we're supposed to love Rhy, but I just don't. I'm excited to read the next books to find out what happens next! I have some hunches about certain characters and such. :)
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Worth a read I was looking for something light to read since I was on an emotional roller coaster from the last book I finished. This was one was good for just that, there are some glaring plot holes to me, but not enough to ruin the fun, which is all in the characters.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So good I loved this story it was so unlike other books I've read.
Date published: 2017-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a world I love the world that was built here and Kels is an amazing character that makes it impossible for you not to fall in love with him and what he does. There's something about him that seems endlessly lonely, as he knows he's 1 of the 2 left of his kind. The way magic is woven into here along with politics of the three different Londons makes this a truly magical tale
Date published: 2017-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Darker Shade of Magic "I'm not going to die," she said. "Not till I've seen it." "Seen what?" Her smile widened. "Everything.” This was incredible! I love the characters. I loved the imagery. The loved the whole book.
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I bought this book because it was recommended by one of the staff at Chapters. I was looking for something interesting in the fantasy section of the store and this book did not disappoint. It was unlike any other fantasy book I had come across and I was immediately drawn in to these new worlds. Definitely a must read!
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Phenomenal I first saw this book on an instagram book account, and instantly was drawn in by the cover - the cover though is quite literally the icing on the cake because this book is absolutely brilliant !!!!!!
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great "First Book of 2017"!! Based on reviews and recommendations, I have wanted to read this book for what feels like a very long time. I finally splurged and ordered it in November and, now that all my reading goals and Christmas is out of the way, finally settled in a few days ago with this little gem. It did not disappoint! While I saw glimmers of Six of Crows, I found the entire storyline/premise/plot/whatever completely unique. I was "sucked in" from the very first page; however, I did find myself needing to jot down notes in order to keep all of the Londons straight. It took me a while, but I finally have everything straight without having to consult my notes. There are four Londons, referred to as Grey London, Red London, White London and Black London. They are "set in space" in that order. Only special magicians called Antaris can move from London to London and only in the order listed above. Kell, our main character, is an Antari, and he is one of only two Antaris left in any of the four worlds (at least that we know of). Antaris can only move through the Londons in the order they are set, so for instance, you couldn't move from White London straight to Grey London; you'd have to go to Red London first. Grey London is set in 1890 and is basically the London we all know but with tiny inklings of magic here and there. It smells like Smoke. King George rules there, though he is now ill and pretty much kept under lock and key. Red London is indeed Red in colour. It is where Kell lives and is considered the "healthy London" with a health mix of magic and people. I'll skip to Black London: it is considered a Lost City, having been "eaten" and consumed by magic many centuries ago. Because of this and the chaos that ensued, Red London immediately closed all of its doors between cities. This left White London alone to fight off any garbage that was spilling out of Black London. As a result, White London is not a pleasant place to live or to visit and is said to smell like Blood. They are not too happy with Red London. (Most of this information is learned in the first few chapters of the book). The two main characters are Kell and Lila. They are compelling characters, written very well, and ones who you really want to root for. Kell causes some trouble fairly early on, and most of the book is those two trying to rectify the problem. Lila can be a bit of a pain in the butt and very stubborn, but she seems to be handy for getting herself or others out of a tight spot. I feel there is a lot more backstory coming in future books, for both of them. I sense that there are a lot of surprises in store for us in regards to those two. It did take me some time to get through the first half of the book. It was probably more busyness on my part than the book itself. I found myself eager to get back to it whenever I could. I really liked the fact that the chapters were short. The book was further split into multiple sections or parts with just a handful of chapters per section, making it easy to "read just one more section". This is similar to Six of Crows, but with many more, shorter, sections. I read the last half today, pretty much in one sitting, and was surprised when I finished just now and looked at the clock to see that it was 1 in the morning! The thought the story would end on a cliffhanger but in fact the ending was very satisfying while at the same time leaving you wanting more. I will be jumping right into Book 2 tomorrow!
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting! Very unique with the different Londons and worlds and travelling between universes. Loved it!
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible! Probably my favourite book I've read this year. Great writing style and a very compelling story. Highly recommend 10/10
Date published: 2015-11-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unique and Interesting Read *please note: I listened to the audiobook version of this novel* I had first heard about A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab at the beginning of this year and I remember the hype that surrounded it quite vividly. I had never read anything by V.E. Schwab before, but so many readers seemed to be utterly in love with her and her writing. A Darker Shade of Magic had been on my “to-read” list for quite some time, but it wasn’t until it showed up as the Daily Deal on Audible that I finally decided to get my own copy and finally read/listen to it. Going in to A Darker Shade of Magic, I knew that the story revolved around the life of a magician of sorts, who is able to travel to and from multiple versions of London in very different alternate universes. There is Red London, White London, Grey London and Black London, all of which are very different from one another. A Darker Shade of Magic follows the life of Kell, a rare magician known as Antari, of which there are only two left in all of the Londons. Kell considers his home to be Red London in which he lives with the King and Queen as well as their son, Prince Rhy whom Kell considers his brother. Kell and Holland, the other Antari, are the only beings that can cross from one alternate London to the next. The worlds within this story are well thought out and feel very unique and interesting. I loved the idea of alternate universes and how different a city could be depending on which universe you are in. Grey London is the London that we know of right now in our current timeline filled with humans and magic is non-existent, where as Red London and White London both contain different levels of magic and magical beings living alongside humans that have no magical power whatsoever. Then there is Black London, the opposite of Grey London as it is a purely magical world. Having these four worlds and having a character that can jump from one to the next is a very interesting and complicated concept. It is obvious that V.E. Schwab spent a lot of time developing each world and she has done a superb job. On top of multiple well written worlds, V.E. Schwab has created multiple well written characters. I absolutely loved Kell. He seemed very humble and didn’t flaunt his magic or act like he was above anyone else. Between him and Holland, Kell seems as though he has a good head on his shoulders while Holland may have a chip on his. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Delilah or Lilah at first. She annoyed me a little as she whined a lot and was very stubborn. I believe she annoyed me more by listening to the audiobook rather than if I had read a physical copy of the book. The way her character was presented by the narrator may have thrown me off a little. Her character did grow on me towards the middle and the end of the story however. That being said, I think parts of this story as an audiobook were a little over the top and over preformed by the narrator, Steven Crossley. There was just something about the way that he read the characters voices that kind of threw me off, but he did do a great job in reading descriptions and actions. He also did a great job in differentiating his voice when performing as different characters. I never once became confused as to which character was speaking. The story itself started out a little confusing at first as it kept jumping from one character’s story to another. At first, some of the different points of view felt a little random, but I kept my hopes up in that they would all somehow connect before the story was over. And that they did! Everything came together in a tightly woven and intricate story. A Darker Shade of Magic didn’t end with an extreme cliffhanger per-se, but it did leave an opening for a continuation of the story. In fact, there will be a sequel that will be released early next year! Although it didn’t have a shocking ending that has me on the edge of my seat begging for more, I am still intrigued as to what the sequel has to offer!
Date published: 2015-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Parallel Londons and Intricate Characters! I adored A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab! I instantly connected with the main character, Kell and found the writing visually gorgeous! I didn’t have any expectations for this book, though it had been on my to-be-read for awhile now. However, I must have read something about the book that left the impression I wouldn’t like the writing and was pleasantly surprised when this wasn’t the case. I loved catching all the details of the worlds – yes worlds – Schwab shares with us. Most importantly, I could feel the differences of the four Londons and that just because a London exists in the same space doesn’t mean they’re not worlds apart. The POV is split between Kell and Delilah Bard aka Lila, but I’d say there’s more POV chapters with Kell. For this reason, I consider Kell the main protagonist and it was huge for me to instantly connect with him. I connect better with female protagonists and so prefer reading books with them. I was thinking to myself why was it so easy to connect with him and came to the conclusion that maybe I’ve never come across one that was believable to me. As well, when the POV’s change I can definitely read a difference in character when it comes to dialogue and thoughts. This can be difficult to attain because of that lingering similarity between character voices. Schwab is exceptional at writing relatable characters. In this book there exists four worlds Kell can travel to, though we only experience three of them: Red London, White London and Grey London as Black London was thought to be destroyed a long time ago. These colours haven’t been chosen randomly and the reader experiences that. Through Kell and Lila, I could really see the differences and learned the importance of remembering each London is vastly distinct. I have to be honest, White London seems like a very scary and bleak place to live, even when compared to Grey London, a world without magic. Kell is an Antari, a world jumper or magician able to travel between worlds and belongs to Red London. The only other Antari in existence is Holland, who comes from White London and their relationship is strained, both having dangerous secrets of their own. I loved that in this book, magic comes with a price and Antari must sacrifice blood and pain when world jumping. Another intriguing fact, these worlds exist on top of each other so when traveling to White London, you must already be in Red London. If you want to go to Grey London, you must be in Red. You can’t travel to Black London from Grey or Red, you need to be in White. This made the plot all the more difficult for Kell and Lila and interesting for the reader. I can’t wait to pick up the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows and find out what’s next for Kell and Lila. Schwab is a master of secrets, so I hope one particular piece of foreshadowing I picked up on is revealed in book #2. There’s a lot of dark elements in A Darker Shade of Magic and I loved every moment of it! I recommend this title to readers wanting a darker fantasy, with incredibly original worlds and intricate characters.
Date published: 2015-10-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I would have liked it better Not sure why everyone loves this book. The concept is original and could have been really intricate but my biggest issue with it is how elementary the style is. The writing is something from a grade one English class in which little prose or diction is executed. Imagine eating a burger with just the beef. It works but I would rather have some flavour added. Maybe I'll try to read it again but in the meantime I was thought it was meh.
Date published: 2015-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A MUST-READ!! Wow this book! I was so incredibly lucky and fortunate to have received an egalley of this book. Even now I still can't believe I read it. I read A Darker Shade of Magic! *cue my own flailings* I have one word for it, MAGICAL! Victoria Schwab's writing is beautiful. Flawless. Every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter was hypnotic. There was no escaping, not that I would want to anyways. If there was a chance to jump inside those pages, I would not hesitate. The world-building was spectacular. Each London was distinct and so appropriately named. Schwab took care to introduce each London to us. Grey London has an ominous vibe, Red London feels grand, White London gives us the shivers and Black London sounds dreadful. Yet, I loved every moment we got to spend in each place. Magnificent I say! Usually I'm not a big fan of multiple POVs. They get messy and confusing but none of that happened with this book. Every person's voice was clear and concise and we do come to realize why their POV was present. This book had no shortage of deaths. The intense battles between the multiple sides had me expecting casualties but I was still surprised by a few. Quite the thrilling ride~ Kell is our Traveler who possesses the rare ability to walk between the worlds. Even though it's not unique to him, as far as we know, he's one of the last two alive. Hence he's important. Native to Red London, Kell grew up with the crown prince inside the palace. Normally that would make anyone giddy however for Kell, he feels something missing. Despite being loved, he feels like a claimed prize. His life is burdened as the messenger between the leaders of the universes so, as a measure of comfort, he smuggles relics between the worlds. Naturally that's strictly forbidden and he gets into big trouble when a transaction out of his ordinary routine happens. As he tries to correct his mistake, he meets a clever thief by the name of Delilah Bard. She's super sassy. Being from Grey London, Lila hasn't seen much excitement in her whole life. Which is why when she literally bumps into Kell, with trouble trailing behind him, she jumps at the chance to experience more. "I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still." (p.199). Her snarky sarcasm was super entertaining and she's definitely got the right attitude to succeed in her adventures ;) My absolute favourite thing about A Darker Shade of Magic was seeing Kell and Lila work together. I wouldn't exactly call them friends but they had the ultimate partnership. Obviously they bickered in numerous ways and clashed on countless occasions but they had each other's back. Surprising since one's royalty and one's a thief and that combination doesn't exactly shout out friendship. Even if they don't admit it to each other, they made a pretty awesome pair. There's really no romance in this book but the hint at one was more than enough to sustain the romantic in me. Hopefully something develops in the sequel. Please, Ms. Schwab? :D The villains were downright creepy. The evil Dane twins took pleasure in pain and torture. I couldn't help but cringe at some of the things they did. You had to be quite bloodthirsty and possibly pure evil to concoct and carry out such a sinister agenda. I do have sympathy for the duo though. White London's state didn't exactly scream mental stability. In a place where it's basically survival of the fittest, you had to exhibit cruelty to be in control. They just seem to enjoy it a wee bit too much. Their poor victims :S This first book wrapped up very nicely and clean. Fans of Victoria Schwab will surely not be disappointed and all booklovers should give A Darker Shade of Magic a go!! It's seriously brilliant! And have I mentioned it's MAGICAL? ;)
Date published: 2015-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommended! I was beyond excited for this book because I love Victoria Schwab’s previous book, Vicious, so so so much. And the premise of A Darker Shade of Magic sounded so exciting and unique! I absolutely loved the world-building going on here: the different Londons and the way magic existed – or didn’t – in each city, in different forms, and the way Kell traveled to the cities was so fascinating. I also loved the characters, especially Kell and Lila. Everyone in this book intrigued me, from Kell and Holland to Rhy and Lila to the twins who rule White London – I wanted to know more about everyone! Of course, the writing was fabulous. And the story lived up to my expectations and then some! It was dark, unpredictable, exciting, bittersweet, and full of adventure and magic. I so wanted to book to go on and on. I really want to read more about this world and these characters, and I especially wanted to see Black London! I can see from Goodreads that there will be a sequel. I am looking forward to it so much! A Darker Shade of Magic is definitely going to be a book that I purchase for my shelf, and so far is probably my favourite book I’ve read in 2015. I highly recommend it!! (I received from the publisher, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review)
Date published: 2015-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A deadly book dripping with magic and blood A Darker Shade of Magic is a deadly book dripping with magic and blood, mystery and fear. It is a journey through worlds, a journey of one person filled to the brim with magic and another looking to escape. Their journey towards survival, everyone's survival, as death nips at their heels. Kell is a rather rare creature indeed. The magic in his blood gives him the ability to travel between different worlds, but all this freedom and power gets him is the job of messenger between his adopted family and the other royals. He both is and isn't held captive, the chains that bind him are invisible and extremely loose. They need him. What Kell needs, wants, is to do as little as possible with the evil king and queen of White London, to work as an occasional smuggler. To discover the secrets in his past, his years before he was taken in by the royal family of Red London. To continue to live. In Grey London, there's the stubborn and clever Delilah Bard. Lila is a thief, a young woman trying to find her own place, trying to climb up out of dark alleyways and shady taverns. A young woman whose heart yearns for freedom on the open seas. A woman with plans. I wonder if others will find her annoying, obstinate. I certainly did. There was a moment for me when it hit hard, when she just wouldn't listen to Kell, or to reason, and I wanted to scream with frustration. But that's the sign of an excellently crafted character, yes? It's not supposed to be easy with Lila, she's not supposed to give in to Kell. This is who she is. As Kell runs, as he hides, as he searches and prepares, it's because of consequences. Consequences of his own actions and mistakes. Consequences of events from a distant past. Everything is connected, through magic or fate or simple coincidence. Or through Kell. This is all about choices and decisions, which is right and which is wrong, and the ripple effect they have through the worlds. And Kell has to find a way to stop it before everything is ripped apart. The world-building in this book is so well done. The different Londons, the different worlds, the different levels of magic. All have their similarities but each are described in ways that set them apart, be it a look or a scent or a breeze in the air. The same goes for the characters. Kell's magic, Lila's disguise, the prince of Red London Rhy and his rather charming personality. The king and queen of White London and the stench of magic and death that circle them. This is all magic mixed with blood, mysterious and complex and complicated characters, and sadistic villains who sit on thrones and play at being royalty. It's a whirlwind of a tale, accidents and fights and dark, dangerous magic that won't stop. Knowing there will be more excites me and I can't help but wonder what will happen next. It could be anything and I have my guesses.
Date published: 2015-02-20

Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly's 27 Female Authors Who Rule Sci-Fi and Fantasy Right Now "A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Its plot is gripping. Its characters are memorable. Its setting in four parallel, powerful Londons is otherworldly yet believable. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale that is original in its premise and compelling in its execution. This is a book to treasure." -Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of The All Souls Trilogy"Compulsively readable...her characters make the book. Just as Kell has layers, Lila is a satisfyingly rich invention...With so many worlds on the map, there's plenty left to discover." -NPR"A Darker Shade of Magic feels like a priceless object, brought from another, better world of fantasy books." -io9"Schwab (Vicious) creates an ingenious set of nesting alternate Londons in this imaginative, well-crafted fantasy. Confident prose and marvelous touches-a chameleon coat, a scarlet river of magic, a piratical antiheroine-bring exuberant life to an exhilarating adventure among the worlds." -Publishers Weekly, starred review"A Darker Shade of Magic is smart, funny and sexy ... Schwab keeps the excitement coming with roller-coaster plot twists that establish her as, perhaps, the natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones's contemporary fantasy crown." -The Independent"Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine." -Kirkus Reviews