Blurb: “Kell is one of the last travellers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. There’s Grey London, without magic and ruled by the mad king George III. Red London – where magic is revered, and where Kell was raised alongside the heir to the empire. White London – where people fight to control the remaining magic and magic fights back. And once there was Black London…”
A Darker Shade of Magic is a book that I’ve seen constantly talked about in the book blogger/booktube world for a long time. It had a lot of hype and, while this tends to make me cautious about reading popular books, I decided to pick up a copy.
The story primarily follows Kell who is the “red traveller” and a kind of personal ambassador for Red London. His role is to carry correspondences between the royals of each London. However, on the side he smuggles parts of each world to the inhabitants of the others, if they are willing to pay. (Note: not everyone can travel to the different Londons)
On one of his escapades, Kell bumps into Delilah (Lila) Bard who robs him: the most notable item being a stone. Lila’s plans quickly unravel when she ends up saving Kell from a dangerous group intent on killing him. Kell informs Lila that the stone is in fact full of magic. But not just any magic. Magic from Black London.
Black London is basically a part of this world that has been ravaged by magic, used for evil, selfish reasons and now lies in ruins.
The duo part ways until a man called Holland jumps her. He knows about the stone, it’s powers and naturally, he wants it for himself. He threatens Lila and demands that she call Kell to the situation. Kell makes his dramatic entrance and repays Lila by saving her.
Kell’s plan is simple: get to Black London and return the stone.
Of course, Holland isn’t going to give up that easily. So it looks like Lila and Kell are going to have to put up with each other for a little while longer.
I can only get down on my knees and worship V.E.Shwab for the amount of planning that must have gone into this book. The world building was spectacular and each London was so distinctive that I felt as if I was really there on the streets. The characters were gloriously interesting. Schwab gives just enough information for you to picture them (for example, Kell) but just a smidge not enough which keeps you reading in the hopes that those gaps will be filled.
Also, kudos to the cover artist for this book because after I finished it, I realised that the circles on the cover actually represent each of the Londons.
This was a fantastic read and it has been a good while since a book has had me this hooked and left me asking myself questions long after I’ve finished it.
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