In A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered – and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London, a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. 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.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, 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.
I had been hearing about this book, and seeing its cover, for eons before I picked it up. I finally caved when I was hunting for an audiobook over the summer, and saw that this was in Hoopla. I couldn’t quit listening. I was finding excuses for me to drive somewhere so I could listen to more of this book quickly.
I loved the strange magic system in A Darker Shade of Magic. The idea of the Antari is fascinating. The alternate universe London’s were a big draw for me, but also, I want Kell’s coat. The universe that Schwab created was simply stunning.
“And so Kell— inspired by the lost city known to all as Black London — had given each remaining capital a color.
Grey for the magic-less city.
Red, for the healthy empire.
White, for the starving world.”
I loved the different characters that we got to meet – and there were tons of them. I think my two favorites were Lila and Holland, simply because of how absolutely dedicated they were to what they each wanted. I look forward to seeing what happens to them all in the next two books, and how each London changes with the events of this book.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the voice actor in A Darker Shade of Magic, but I actually enjoyed his reading. If you’re a picky audiobook listener, I recommend checking that out before you buy.
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