Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


Kell is an Antari, a magician who can travel between the parallel Londons: Red, Grey, White, and Black. Kell acts as a messenger between the different leaders of the parallel worlds, but he also collects items that he smuggles between the worlds. After making a bad deal, Kell meets Lila Bard, a wanted pick pocket. Together, they have to battle against a dangerous magic that is not from their worlds.

I read this book a few years ago, but I loved it so much, I wanted to read it again. I read it as a buddy read over a few weeks. I got so much more out of the story reading it all at once.

I love V.E. Schwab’s poetic language in this story. She has so many memorable quotes. One of my favourites is “I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” Schwab is such an amazing world builder, and her beautiful phrases make the story a work of art.

This book is an exciting introduction to the Shades of Magic series!

What to read next:

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Shades of Magic, Vol. 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

  • A Gathering of Shadows
  • A Conjuring of Light

Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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