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A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel Hardcover – February 24, 2015
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“A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Its plot is gripping. Its characters are memorable. Its setting in four parallel, powerful Londons is otherworldly yet believable. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale that is original in its premise and compelling in its execution. This is a book to treasure.” ―Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of The All Souls Trilogy
“Compulsively readable...her characters make the book. Just as Kell has layers, Lila is a satisfyingly rich invention...With so many worlds on the map, there's plenty left to discover.” ―NPR
“A Darker Shade of Magic feels like a priceless object, brought from another, better world of fantasy books.” ―io9
“Schwab (Vicious) creates an ingenious set of nesting alternate Londons in this imaginative, well-crafted fantasy. Confident prose and marvelous touches-a chameleon coat, a scarlet river of magic, a piratical antiheroine-bring exuberant life to an exhilarating adventure among the worlds.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A Darker Shade of Magic is smart, funny and sexy ... Schwab keeps the excitement coming with roller-coaster plot twists that establish her as, perhaps, the natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones's contemporary fantasy crown.” ―The Independent
“Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.” ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
V. E. Schwab's first adult novel, Vicious, debuted to critical praise and reader accolades. Schwab is the author of YA novels The Near Witch, The Archived, and The Unbound. She is also currently writing a fantasy middle grade series with Scholastic.
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Top Customer Reviews
A Darker Shade of Magic is a wonderful mix of historical fantasy, swashbuckling adventure and magical mayhem. Here there are three very different versions of London, three distinctive parallel universes that only a rare few people known as the Antari are able to travel between. Grey London is closest to a historical version of our world, there is no magic and most people are completely unaware of the other universes. Red London is a lavish kingdom where magic is plentiful and people on the whole are happy and healthy, most people are aware of the other worlds but have no desire to leave their own home. White London has magic but it is a different, darker, kind and people are constantly battling for power over each other, this London is a place where the weak are preyed upon and only the strong survive. There used to be a fourth world but there the magic was twisted and decayed, Black London was being destroyed from the inside out so the other versions of London banded together to permanently close the gateways and cut them off and it is believed that the world has since destroyed itself.
Kell is one of only two known Antari, he was born in Red London and he is tasked with the role of delivering messages between the royal families from each remaining version of London.Read more ›
Kell is an Antari, one of the last humans with the ability to travel between parallel Londons. A long time ago, traffic between the four Londons flowed freely, but that was before Black London was overcome by magic, and the other three sealed themselves off, with nothing permitted to cross their borders. Kell doesn’t really take these restrictions seriously, though, and has a healthy trade smuggling items between the worlds. But when someone gives him a letter to take across, he finds himself in a whole bunch of unanticipated trouble.. and stuck with Lila, an incorrigible thief who seems to expect him to take her on an adventure.
First, the worldbuilding. I liked the idea of the four parallel Londons, each with varying levels of magic, and they were well executed – there’s our “Grey” London, with hardly any magic, Kell’s native Red London, where people and magic are balanced, and White London, where magic is seen as something to be conquered. And Black London, which was devoured by its magic, and no one talks about anymore. The universes are all very different, aside from having a city named London at the same spot, and it was interesting to see how that worked. I also enjoyed the near-sentience of the magic itself.
Just like VICIOUS, the book was pretty fast-paced, and the bulk of the action took place over a short period of time. While I enjoyed that things moved quickly, I really wanted to spend more time getting to know the world and characters.Read more ›
Kell's function is to carry letters between the monarchs in each of the London's but he can't resist smuggling items between the Londons - a tendency which leaves him open to accusations of high treason. He has also been raised as a member of the royal family of Red London.
I loved this book. I've read a few disappointing books lately, and this book restored my faith in story-telling. I enjoyed the two main characters - Kell and Lila (of Grey London). They're both flawed and damaged in their own way and yet both maintain an inherent decency, strained as it is at times.
The plot unfolds in an interesting way and as it goes, we learn more about both our main characters and this alternative world. The settings are fun, in their multiple versions of London which all feel a bit London-ish. Overall, the writing is just plain good and I very much enjoyed this book.
I'm so glad I found it - which was due to a favourable review in Urban Fantasy Magazine.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was such an adventure to read! I really enjoyed the Londons, the magic, the characters. Really enjoyable read.Published 6 days ago by Sarah
Found it just because I liked the cover. Best book I've picked up in a while. Can't wait for next spring to get the next book. Hope it's more than just 3 books.Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
*This review is posted on Steele Reviews [...]
Magic, Intrigue, Princes, and Thieves all come together in the intricate setting of London for this high-stakes fantasy... Read more
Nicely paced and lovable characters make this a perfect page turner! I really enjoyed this tale of world traveling adventure.Published 7 days ago by Family C
Great story. A very different type of story that was refreshing and fun to read. I would like another in this story.Published 7 days ago by loralee
The plot is intriguing, but I read this after a book by Neal Stephenson, and the writing felt painfully simple.Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
I remember there was a lot of hype when the hardback edition came out and I was DYING to read ADSOM. Victoria is one of my favorite authors and I couldn't wait. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Kaelyn
Confession: I only picked up A Darker Shade of Magic because of the hype and because I had a credit on Audible. I don’t regret it. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Chasm of Books