Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel betweenshade

parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody reg

ime 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

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic
  2. A Gathering of Shadows
  3. A Conjuring of Light

If you followed my Read Along-posts, you might have noticed that I wasn’t happy with that book at all. I kinda hoped it would get better but now I am finished and still unhappy. What a waste of time.

Positives first – 3 different Londons is a cool idea.

That’s it.

Even the 3 Londons are super generic. One is magical and fluffy and colourful. One is grey & bland and there’s hardly any magic. One is evil and has evil magic and everything wants to kill and eat you. There’s also a 4th London which is cut off, because it went berserk. Because of that, travel between the other 3 Londons is only possible if you are an Antari, which is a powerful wizard, who can control all elements. Antaris have one black eye. There’s only a few of them.

One of them is Kell. Kell is our main protagonist. He’s okay. Pretty boring to be honest. He sometimes likes to moan and steps into every trap in his way.

The other is Holland. Holland is mean. I think that’s it. We didn’t get to know a lot about Holland, which is a shame, cause he was supposed to be one of the main opponents. I am sure he will play a bigger role in the sequel, but I won’t be there to witness it.

Lila is our second protagonist. She is pretty far at the top of my list of most aggravating & annoying characters of all time. Lila is a thief who is very unhappy with her life and wants a new one. She also doesn’t really want to work for it, but thinks everything’s unfair and wants it to be handed to her. She feels sorry for herself the whole time, but when anyone shows compassion and wants to help her, she doesn’t want any of it.

Instead of taking up an honest profession, she whinges and moans and won’t stop stealing. She’s also pretty stupid and acts like a child throwing a tantrum more often than not.

Lila and Kell together made me want to run head first against a wall.

The story is nothing we haven’t seen before. There’s an evil black stone that grants everyone who holds it grand magical powers. It’s also dangerous and wants to take control over its owner. Like the one ring. So Kell who thinks the stone is from Black London, wants to bring it there to destroy it. Like going to Mordor, but without a cool fellowship. And there’s no Sauron or Saruman, but a bland antagonist couple – The Dane Twins, rulers of white London. They are really disappointing, as we don’t know anything about them, apart from them liking torture and getting tricked even quicker than Kell.

Bland, boring, nothing new, disappointing antagonists & unlikeable protagonists.

I don’t need more of this.

1,5/5 Stars.



  1. I didn’t read the series but I read a lot of reviews who said that it was boring. When I read the summary and saw the three London thing I thought is was a good idea but the characters seemed flat and uninteresting…. great review!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I wasn’t impressed with this book either. EVERYONE at my bookstore said I’d love it and the author has a huge following on Twitter who would have you believe the same. But I just didn’t. The potential for something great with the different London’s was there but it fell flat for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I rated this one a 3, so I probably liked it more than you, but I agree – this book was overblown. I was bored for most of it too and didn’t know what the fuss was all about. The second book was slightly better, but Lila still annoyed the hell out of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heh, I love how we all respond differently to different things 🙂 I think I enjoyed this more than I might otherwise have done because I was read-alonging (group reads are so much fun) but that clearly didn’t help for you!

    I loved it as entertaining fluff, but it didn’t leave me wanting to read more of Schwab’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad I haven’t started this series, then! I also found the idea interesting, but hadn’t gotten around to trying it. I think if I had tried to read it, I would have ended up throwing the book against the wall. (Especially in the highly anti-YA-angst mood I’m currently in.)

    Liked by 1 person

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