I have been reading, hearing and seeing a lot about Victoria Schwab’s books, but I never had the chance to read one. I even have bookish merchandise from Shades of Magic; a pouch, a mug and an art print! Now the time has come for me to read them and I started with A Darker Shade of Magic. Poor me! Now I need to read the next ones in the trilogy!!!
Kell is one of the last Antari in the Universe. He is living in Red London, serving the MAresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling to White London, the one with the frequent changes of the regime and Grey London and the court of King George III. Red London is the most vivid of all. It embraces magic and most of its people have the gift to use it. It is Kell’s home, even though he stands out as he is part of the court and an Antari, the one that uses blood magic. White London wants to control all magic there is and uses it as a slave, as a servant in all the dark and ugly ways. Its people are pale, they are fading out and the most powerful magician is the one to take the throne. Gray London is the old plain London where magic is forgotten or feared. It is poor and the only part of magic they see is for the King’s eyes, when Kell brings him letters from Red London.
However, in White and Gray London there are few people that want to have artifacts from the other Londons, Kell is the only one that can smuggle this artifacts from one London to the other, when he travels as ambassador. Actually he is not the only one, as there is one more Antari in White London, Holland. But he is the only willing one to do it. When one of those deals doesn’t go as planned and he ends up with a dangerous artifact, he travels to Gray London only to be robbed out of the artifact itself. The thief is no other than a young woman, one that eventually saves him from a deadly enemy. The two of them will be chased by dark forces and will have to do their best to bring stability among the three Londons.
This new magic that Schwab portrays in the series is so much interesting and so much different than what I’ve read before. The whole idea of the parallel Londons that are interconnected by doors visible and open only to Antari is so fresh for me. The parallel universe idea is not new, but I like how she has built this world. For example the Londons are in a specific order so if you want to travel from one to the other, you would have to follow that order. On one end there is Gray London, then there comes Red London, which is followed by White London and on the other end, there is Black London which is forbidden land. Reason is that in Black London, magic overpowered people so eventually, the other Londons had to seal the gates to Black London and isolate it. No-one knows what is the situation in Black London and no-one really wants to know.
Lila is a bad-ass heroin. A girl that can survive in the streets of London, her London that was the only one she knew existed till she met Kell. She dreams of becoming a pirate and she looks after herself and doesn’t care about anyone else. Until she meets Kell and she saves his life and has no idea why she did it. She is not the one to take orders and she is used to taking risks. This is why she is so keen on getting in this adventure, which is also a mean for her to leave a place she always wanted to leave behind.
Kell was raised by the royal family and he loves Rhy, the prince, as a brother. But he doesn’t feel he truly belongs there. He feels he belongs to the royal family. Being among too many of Red Londoners is not his strong point. Rhy is far better with people. But when it comes to him using his power, he is a different person. He has no idea why he went back for that cutthroat and thief, but eventually he is glad he did it.
I enjoyed the first book very much, even though Kell and Lila are only my friends as they are between them, more or less. I really want to continue with the rest of the trilogy, as the story seams to unfold on the next books and becomes far more interesting!