Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: VE Schwab
Part of a series? Yes, the first book in the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.
Rating: 4.75 stars.
This was the first book by V.E. Schwab I have read, and I absolutely LOVED it. Do you ever have moments when you're reading a book and suddenly realise that it's exactly what you wanted to read at that time? Well, I had that during this book. Quite a bit. Her writing is wonderful and the story is fast-paced as the chapters are short but detailed, and I am so glad that ADSOM lived up to the hype surrounding it!
*SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON*
So, where to start with ADSOM? The world(s) were interesting, distinctive, and it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into making them. I liked how Grey London was our London, as it made it feel like the possibility of Red, White, and Black London existing was not as far-fetched as it sounds. The magic system was interesting and different to most I've read, too, although at times it was slightly confusing (having said that, my head is a bit fried at the moment from exams, so maybe that's why I struggled to keep up!).
Another part of the novel that I loved was the characters. They were so well-developed, and Kell was a great protagonist. Admittedly, it took me some time to like Lila, but by the end of the book I thought she was pretty kick-ass and amazing. Athos and Astrid were excellent villains, which was good because I love it when you can really hate the villains! My favourite character was definitely Rhy; I may have fallen a little in love with him, and I hope there's more of him in the second book. V.E. Schwab also blurred the lines between good and bad with Holland fantastically, and I just know that he's going to come back in the second book, maybe in charge of Black London with that creepy stone? That's my theory, anyway.
A Darker Shade of Magic was refreshing, because there was little romance in it! We got to see Kell and Lila's friendship develop, and, while I love romance books, it made a nice change to just focus on the adventure and action (of which there is lots, some quite gruesome), and not the couple (although Kell and Lila were a cute pair).
I would recommend this book to lovers of fantasy or historical fiction (or amazing books!), and to people who want to try an adult book and who aren't opposed to the odd swear word and bloody battle. I only just found out that A Darker Shade of Magic is an adult novel, not a YA, and unlike the Mysterious Affair at Castaway House, I found it quite easy to read. I'm actually glad ADSOM is an adult novel; after reading TMAACH, I was feeling a bit apprehensive of reading other adult novels, but now I'm more excited to read some of the books I've got waiting for me, like The Miniaturist and Gone Girl. One of my favourite books this year so far!
Have you read ADSOM? What did you think? Let me know!
Thanks for reading(: