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.
Series: Shades of Magic
Length: 416 pages
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint Edition
Book Description: Kell is one of the last Antari – magicians with the 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 the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 out of 5 stars!)
This book really did it for me. I can’t get enough of historical fantasies set in London (when they’re done right), and Schwab met that need with gusto – she went and added three more Londons!
Her writing, though I found it wordy, vividly described all of the different worlds so colorfully. From the vibrant and lush descriptors for the richly magical Red London, to the drab and rainy details of Grey London, Schwab really managed to make all of the settings feel distinct from one another.
Kell was a great protagonist, one that I felt I constantly wanted to know more about as the book went on. His coat was an excellent supporting character – and it does deserve to be included as one, believe me! – and it was just as interesting as Kell himself.
I thought Lila Bard was a fine second protagonist. I’ve seen her getting a lot of hate in other reviews, but I honestly liked her a fair amount during my journey through A Darker Shade of Magic. We’ll see if that changes going forward into the sequels. (She has a rather obvious “secret” that I’m quite annoyed is being teased.)
The plot was also fun to get into once the book picked up. I really liked all the machinations going on behind the scenes and the subtle plot threads that were laid out at the beginning. They all culminated nicely at the end, and the novel didn’t really leave on a cliffhanger, which was nice, even if there were still a few unanswered questions (like Lila’s “secret”😤🙄). I won’t spoil it more than that, though!
Anyway, I highly recommend this book! To everyone mostly, cuz I liked it just that much! But especially so if you like fantasy, or historical fiction, or historical fantasy fiction. This book tells its story well, and I can’t wait to read the sequels!