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Lora's Rants and Reviews

My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing. I DO NOT accept review requests but only review books I choose to read and I don't post reviews on Amazon. I'm also persnickity about genre and plot. DO NOT FOLLOW ME IF YOU'RE HERE TO ADVERTISE, ESPECIALLY NON-BOOK PRODUCTS. I WILL BLOCK YOU!!!

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A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

by V.E. Schwab


A very magical Fantasy with multiple dimensions and a magician, Kell, who can walk between different versions of London which he has designated by colors; Black London, Grey London, Red London and White London. Strictly speaking, it's against the law to move between the different Londons but in Red London, Kell's home, he enjoys some privilege because he belongs to the royal family and he smuggles small items on occasion, especially coins because he needs a token from a dimension of London to travel through to it.


The nature of each version of London is very different, mostly defined by how magic affects the place. Grey London sounds very like the London we know, while Red London is a very magical place. White London falls somewhere between those, but Black London is a desolate place that was destroyed when magic became an uncontrolled force.


Kell is a likable character with a good heart and genuine affection for the prince, who is like a brother to him. His excursions are just a bit of fun for him, until someone who knows who and what he is slips him something dangerous and a lot of things start to go wrong. Political intrigue runs high and Kell does have limits to his power, which becomes apparent when he has to tangle with one of his own kind.


A strong female character enters Kell's life by picking his pocket. Some questions about Lila are left unanswered, but that is presumably intentional as a series is to follow. I'm not sure that I'll continue with it as I feel the story at hand came to a tidy ending and I prefer stand alone books in general, but time will tell.


I thought the story was well done, the magic handled well and the characters very distinctive. The different shades of London were also well differentiated and overall the story was enjoyable. There's plenty of fast action near the end and the essential loose ends were all tied up. I'd definitely recommend this one to traditional Fantasy readers.