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.


By far the most exciting and unique thing about this book is the alternative dimensions that Kell travels through known as the other Londons. I find it interesting that these Londons are not based on different versions of the same world and in fact have far different maps, languages, and cultures.

I liked the idea of naming them different colors based on the feeling or colors of that world. Black, Red, White, and Gray. However, it was also a little too simple and sometimes I got Gray and White London confused between each other.

I also liked how they’re described as being in different layers – you can’t really just travel from one London to any other, there’s an order you go through. I also liked that Kell needs a piece from each of the Londons to go back and forth.

Overall, I thought that Schawb did a great job of painting each London throughout the book, giving us insight into each of them except Black London. I loved that each of the different Londons had varying degrees of magic and it was interesting to see how it affected them.


Kell the protagonist made a really great one I thought. He seemed like a really well rounded character. He had his faults and his strengths as well and I enjoyed his comparison to the other Antari, Holland.

However, I wish that more time was spent looking at the Antari. I really wanted to know earlier how Kell learned his gifts and what the world was like when there was more of them. Kell does touch on them throughout the story, but I think it would have helped give his abilities more allure.

Lila was another great character, I thought it was clever bringing her in from Grey London as it made Kell have to explain a lot of things naturally. I thought she was another well rounded character and I really liked her.

However she annoyed me at times. I thought in some ways she was a cliche, living on her own, dressed as a boy, tougher than she looks. Reminds me a lot of other similar characters. I also thought her constant jumping into things without thinking helped drive the plot forward but also was annoying.

As for the other characters, I really liked them. I thought Rhys was a great character because I think it helped show that Kell was considered a part of the family although he didn’t feel that way. I almost wish that Kell could have had some flashbacks or stories about ways he felt left out to help illustrate this feeling more. Perhaps it was so just because he knew he was adopted and so that painted his view differently regardless of how his family treated him.

Holland was really fascinating. I wish we could have learned more about his backstory because I loved the idea of a tragic villain who might have been a great guy if it wasn’t for his will being taken away from him.

The Twins made for great villains, I loved that they weren’t a married couple and instead brother and sister. I think though that its really interesting because I believe I’ve seen a similar situation before in another book series.


Overall, the plot was really great. For the first while, I was a bit confused what the plot was going to be but once he found the stone, things really started to pick up and go. I loved the idea of the stone being imbuned with this powerful dark magic that even other characters like Kell and Lila were drawn to it.

I found the dark magic to be very fascinating. I loved that in a way, magic really was it’s own character. Especially after it started to infect other people. Although this was really interesting, it brought up a lot of questions for me like how come it turned into a dark magic situation but magic in the other kingdoms were not corrupt. I wonder why magic was fine in Red but not in White or Black. How come more accidents never happened?

The plot kept me guessing a lot throughout the book and I thought was really unique and exciting. I loved the ending as it was very satisfying to read.

Book Cover

On its own, the book cover is quite plain compared to similar books. However it stands out from other books because of it. I think as it’s actually an adult book, it fits in with other books in that age group. It looks more mature than what I think it would look like if it was marketed as a YA.

This book cover paints a great picture of the story though and is quite eye catching even from afar. It reminds me of traditional graphic design techniques and of Chip Kidd’s designs.


As I mentioned in the book cover review, this book is an adult book although I know plenty of people who think it’s a YA. I think some people get confused because the characters are in their young twenties/late teens. However, NA isn’t really a catagory yet so it gets put in the adult section.

For being an adult book, it felt like a YA with the writing style. I loved the book for this and that there wasn’t a huge focus on romance or sex. One of the reasons I don’t read adult books that often is for the more explicit sex scenes. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, I just think it’s not always needed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I really loved this book and would read it again. Find it on Goodreads.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review- A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it this much ♥ I should reread this book and get back into the rest of them, because I don’t remember a lot and I really want to finish this trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks me too! I read a couple of popular books the other year and was disappointed so I’ve been a little wary of hype lately. But this was definitely worth its hype! I’m so interested to see where the rest of the series goes!

      Liked by 1 person

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