Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a 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 of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. start shut up. I already know I am WAY LATE to reading all the cool and hyped up books and I am EMBARRASSED. Anyways. Yikes, I am a bad book blogger. On to the review…

I am officially going to read nothing but YA dark fantasy; all the characters are freaking AWESOME and tough and I want nothing more than to be an Antari now? Okay okay, maybe not. I don’t have enough pain-tolerance for it, but that’s irrelevant. Anyways. I enjoyed this book a lot; I was unfamiliar with Schwab’s writing, though I had done some work for her street team years and years ago. So, I had little expectations surrounding this novel other than I knew Schwab was cool, and that this series was frequently grouped in with some of my favorite fantasy authors, specifically Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo.

And, honestly, I see why! The writing style, especially descriptors of magic and the worlds, were very vivid and deep, much like the other two authors mentioned. The plot itself ran a bit slow for me, as it felt like there were scenes throughout that didn’t really need to be there, and were just kind of filler and world builders (which, though necessary, make fantasy a bit dull for me). However, the world was fascinating. I am planning to continue the series just because the concepts of all of these connecting AUs reminds me of a darker Diana Wynne Jones plot.

The magic was really cool as well and read as…familiar. Weird word choice, I know, but hear me out. I felt like I must have stumbled across a few other novels that have the same sort of magic system, but I couldn’t remember what they were. So, I am choosing to believe that Schwab was able to write her magic in such a way that it just made perfect logical sense, so much so I felt like I already knew how it worked. Which, is really cool, and helped eliminate some of the typical tedious world building of fantasy worlds.

So, overall, this novel had a bit of what I loved and I bit of what bothers me in YA fantasy. It was a bit heavy and slow at times, but had some incredible and vivid magic, characters, and the world. I am looking forward to exploring the rest of the series, as I am sure they get stronger!

3.5 out of 5.


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