A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab
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.
Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Source: Purchased from BookOutlet
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: February 24, 2015A Darker Shade of Magic has that unique kind of ability where it pulls you in and keeps you on the edge of the seat for the entire time and leaves you wanting more once it's finished. The magic system is one of the best I have read in a long time and if anyone asks me for a fantasy recommendation, this will be the first one off my tongue. Can February come a little faster so I can have A Gathering of Shadows, please and thank you?
There is so much good in this one that I don't even know where to start. I loved all the characters (I aspire to be Lila Bard) and can't wait to see what else is in store for them in the future. I could read about Kell and Lila doing mundane tasks and still be happy about it. They have the best chemistry and give and take, both allowing the other to shine but also grow. I loved Lila's want for adventure and Kell's reluctance to let her -- or anyone else -- be hurt because of magic. They had the right mix of sarcasm and actual caring to make them into a fun duo that you were rooting for the entire time.
The plot was amazing. I loved following along throughout the different Londons with Kell -- and then with Kell and Lila -- until we reached the end. I was so nervous about the ending because there didn't seem to be enough time to resolve everything. The ending left it open but also gave closure to this story arc, which was nice. I like when the plot concludes but you can still see the characters living on after. But man am I glad there is a sequel (AND A THIRD BOOK. YAY!) I also really want to know more about Kell's back story and why he can't remember anything because I feel like that is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
The world building was immaculate. If you are writing a fantasy book right now, take note. The world building in this is flawless and seamless with the right amount of exploring the worlds and being told about the different aspects of them. As Kell traveled through the different Londons, I felt as though I was right there with him. Once explained, I could travel between the Londons myself and understand the difference, but it was nice to have Lila reaffirm the aspects of them as she traveled. It made me as a reader realize that because Kell was so used to traveling, he didn't notice some of the details the same way a fresh pair of eyes would. So having Lila travel and be like "oh everything here is so vibrant and smells so nice" was a nice touch to expanding both the world and the characters.
This is like my number one recommendation right now and forever. I can't wait to see what else Schwab has up her sleeve in regards to Kell and Lila but I know I am excited to read it.