A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Spoiler Free Review

Review Header Image (1)

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
V.E. Schwab
Series Name: 
Shades of Magic
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 27th, 2015
Pages: 384 (Paperback)
Publishers: Titan Books
5 star

Blog titles (20)

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.


Blog titles (29)

“Hesitation is the death of advantage.”

This was my second experience with Victoria Schwab’s writing (first being the Monsters of Verity Duology). I enjoyed her writing when I first read one of her books, but I think I enjoyed it, even more, this time around. She has the ability to get to the point and move along quickly to keep the book feeling well paced but also takes enough time to build and develop the world and characters. She created a very vivid world (well worlds, plural,  actually) in this book. However, it was in no way info dumping. We gradually learn about each London and it’s done in a way that feels natural rather than just for the sack of world building.

I also really enjoyed the way the characters were introduced and developed. Even in this first book of the series all the characters we meet feel fleshed out and realistic. Nothing felt forced or fake about these characters or their relationships with each other.

This is also a book that has the right amount of romance for me. As in very little. In A Darker Shade of Magic, not once did I feel like the romance was taking over the plot of the book. It felt natural and for once the characters were more focused on the world ending than their relationship. That is a pet hate for me in YA books. Characters just go off and do romantic or sexual crap when the world is falling apart around them, yet they claim to be helping. That was not the case in this book. The characters had their priorities straight for once!

Blog titles (30)

In the beginning, the plot was a little slow. However, it was done well. In the beginning, the author is setting the scene and things are happening but you can’t make the connections. Then at around 1/4 of the way into the book, we dive straight into the action. From then on out the book is full of action, mystery & twists and turns.

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

Blog titles (31)

First off me have Lila, who I loved and also she reminded me or myself. For one thing, she has a sarcastic attitude, which is totally me. She is also funny at the perfect times, which while I’m not going to toot my own horn by saying I’m the same, I do amuse myself with my well-timed jokes, whether other people find it funny, well I don’t particularly care haha.

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg.” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

She also has an awesome attitude to life. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what she can’t do, she takes opportunities when they come along and she tries to live life to the fullest even if that means risking her own neck.

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

Next, we have Kell who is such an amazing character. He is one of those characters that is just straight out good. He is caring, loving and protective even when he doesn’t know people fully. His relationship with his brother Rhy is amazing! I love strong family dynamics in books and even though the whole situation between them is a little rough they care about each other fiercely. They try and keep each other on the right track (even if it doesn’t always work) and they protect each other with everything they have.

Kell wore a very peculiar coat.

It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.

Rhy, Kell’s brother, we only actually see a couple times in the book. However, in that short time we do, I really liked him. Like I said above I really enjoy his and Kell’s relationship. He is another simply good guy in this book (There were 3). He is kinda sweet an innocent some of the time but then he is also a bit of a troublemaker and wants to have fun. He is also just so nice and cares so much.

Holland is a questionable character. While I don’t agree with some of the things he does, I don’t hate him either. He is a mysterious character and I hope we get to learn more about him.

Lastly, I want to talk about Barron, who only have a small role in the book. I loved him! He is my 3rd good guy type character. He is so nice and just wants to help those in need. He is one of those people that would do anything to help someone even if he doesn’t really know them. What happened to him throughout the book killed me, like a lot. I won’t say anything more as I don’t want to spoil anyone.

Blog titles (32)

Overall I really enjoyed this book. There is nothing I can complain about or that I didn’t enjoy. The writing, world building, character development and plot are all amazing. The characters are so well done and just amazing people! I love it!
I did read this as part of the A Darker Shade of ReadALongs which is hosted by Common Spence on YouTube. So I won’t be reading Book 2 until next month! Which kinda sucks as I want to start it right now, but I will wait so I don’t get confused with what happens in which book during the discussion!

She considered him a moment before answering. “Delilah Bard,” she said. “But Lila will do.” Lila. A soft name but she used it like a knife, slashing out on the first syllable, the second barely a whisper of metal through air.

Copy of Goodreads Synopsis

You can purchase a copy for yourself at any of the links below.
*There is an alternate cover for this book. I will insert it below. The Links with a * next to them are editions with the alternate cover*

You could also use my affiliate links for Book Depository, Booktopia or Angus & Robertson.

Book Depository
Paperback   //   Paperback*   //   Hardcover*

Paperback   //   Paperback*   //   Hardcover*   //   Hardcover Collector’s Edition   //   Hardcover Collector’s Edition*

Angus & Robertson
Paperback   //   Paperback*   //   Hardcover*   //   Hardcover Collector’s Edition   //   Hardcover Collector’s Edition*

Amazon (Aus)
Kindle   //   Paperback   //   Hardcover*

Scribd (Available in Australia – there is no way I can see if it is available elsewhere)

Alternate cover:

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Copy of Blog titles




Purchase any of the books mentioned from Book Depository! World Wide Free Shipping.
Aussie? Want quick shipping? Awesome prices? Want to be able to use AfterPay? Maybe try Booktopia or even Angus & Robertson!

4 thoughts on “A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Spoiler Free Review

  1. Great review! I’m so happy you loved it. This is my favorite series of all time. It makes me so freaking stoked when I see someone rave about Lila, because she’s honestly very widely disliked in the Shades of Magic fandom and I don’t get it! She can be abrasive but it’s part of why I love her so much. By the end of the series she was one of my all-time favorite protagonists.


    1. Aww really? I’ve never really read reviews or anything on it as I don’t read reviews unless I’ve read the book. So I didn’t know she was disliked. I really enjoyed her. And she reminds me of myself a fair bit! Can’t wait for the next two books!


      1. Yeah, a lot of people said they think she’s trying too hard to be violent or edgy or whatever. I think it’s just her! I can’t help but feel like sometimes – not always, of course – the people complaining about her wouldn’t be complaining if she was a male character, you know? :/ But maybe I’m imagining that lol. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the next 2!


Comments are closed.