Book Review: “A Darker Shade Of Magic” by V.E. Schwab

Warning: If you have not read the book “A Darker Shade Of Magic” by V.E. Schwab, don’t read this review unless you want spoilers!

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “A Darker Shade Of Magic” by V.E. Schwab!

I’ve read past books of hers, such as “This Savage Song” and “Our Dark Duet,” so I’m interested in picking this one up and giving it a try! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

 “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.”

Worldbuilding Development:

There was a heavy amount of worldbuilding in this book. Usually I am a big fan of intricate worldbuilding that is understandable, but it got incredibly excessive to the point that this worldbuilding, as well as consequently introducing the characters, took literally over a third of the book. Because of this, the pacing was incredibly slow, and that was not fun to read in terms of the plotline.

Character and Plot Development:

My main complaint about the book, overall, is this: I felt that the book killed off a lot of people with amazing potential for more. For instance, Beloc. The poor guy was used by one of the main two villains, and then was later offed by Lila. We could have had him help Lila and Kell out in some way, or see how he deals with the trauma of what he went through.

A second character they should not have killed off was Holland. Holland should not have been killed off. He was arguably more interesting to read than Kell, given exactly how much he clashed with him.

Also, thirdly, Fletcher. Though he had a fairly minor role compared to the other characters (and okay, Beloc is even more minor), he was incredibly fun to read overall, and I loved the first chapter he was introduced in to pieces! I wish they hadn’t killed him off, because I feel like having him around more would have made the plot more interesting, as well as give Kell and Lila another interesting person to hang around with.

Lila and Kell themselves were not very interesting to read together. I was also confused as of whether the book was trying to set up a romance between each other or not, given how they have Lila kissing Kell not too long after meeting each other, but there is no further indication of them being necessarily romantic with each other, either. Individually, they had some strong character introductions in the first third of the book, but the rest of the book just didn’t build on what they established at all.

Overall, I’m rating this book 2.5 out of 5 stars!

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