Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.
After weeks of hearing about the genius that is A Darker Shade Of Magic, I finally picked the book up at my local library. I sincerely hoped that it would live up to the hype.
Guys. Guys, this book more than lived up to the hype.
From page 1, I was hooked. This isn't the usual style of book that I tend to fall for, but Schwab's writing is so crisp and clear, poetic and dramatic, I couldn't help but trip into love.
Victoria Schwab has created an amazing three dimensional universe with this book. The characters are bright and complex; I am particularly fond of Lila, the crossdressing thief seeking adventure, no matter what it might cost her. Kell, the Not-Prince who wants to feel alive and like he has some kind of control in his life.
I want more of Prince Rhy, the charming young man (I'm unsure if this was confirmed for sure, but I'm fairly certain that Rhy is 100% hella bisexual and it's beautiful) who just wants to be a good, strong King and wants his brother to be safe and happy.
But as much as I loved the characters, and the plot was inspired (like, no, really, it was inspired as hell), I have to say that the world building itself stole the show.
With overlapping parallel dimensions that communicate and war with each other, different languages, the sheer detail of the Londons blew my mind. This book is talent and skill at its purest.
So if you're a fan of political intrigue, sadistic kings, sentient magical systems, crossdressing thieves, and the kind of brotherly love that makes your heart hurt, I highly recommend this book. I sincerely look forward to picking up the sequel soon, A Gathering Of Shadows.
OVERALL RATING: 5 of 5 Stars