book review · books · Shar

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

I recently read this and it was sososo quite very good. *nods* Now all I have to do is read A gathering of Shadows

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic9781783295401

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA fantasy

Themes: Friendship, dark magic, English life, power, what to do when twins go postal

My blurb: Kell is Antari, a rare blood magician. As one of the only people who can carry messages (and illegal trinkets) between the parallel Londons—White, bleached by a thirsty struggle over power; Red, Kell’s vibrant home; and Grey, our world, with only faint glimmers of magic—he is important to his crown. But when he comes across and strange and powerful black stone, relic of the cut-off and ravaged Black London, he might have bit off ore than he can chew.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, apart from good, yet, so I’m going to break it down into sections.

The Setting- AMAZING. ell is from Red London, the most prosperous one, filled with both magical power and material wealth. Everything, from the bright and bustling night market, to the lavish palace, to the taverns and alleys, felt incredibly real.

White London bore the brunt of Black London’s collapse. Everything there is about power and as a result, White London felt dangerous and hungry. There’s an ever-changing host of vicious (see what I did there?) monarchs. Currently the terrifying Dane twins are in power. The whole place was faded and burnt out from the constant struggles for power.

Grey London, unlike the other two, is not centred on magic at all (It’s our world in the 1700s). The opening scene in dying King George’s prison/castle is just as real as the dark docks and the tavern (the tavern is in every London; different name, same place. So is the Thames. Meanwhile, all the city’s other features change.).

All the Londons felt very distinct, but also the same, connected despite their differences. The whole premise behind the settings (and, in fact, the whole story) was both brilliantly unique and comfortingly familiar.

The Plot- I loved the way it was divided into 13ish parts. Each had a title that subtly hinted at the events to follow and four-ish chapters. I loved the way this made ADSOM feel. As for the plot itself, it too a while to get started, but then was incredibly exciting, with changing perspectives and settings across Londons, fight scenes and hiding scenes and talking scenes and much very good. Some of the scenes were so creepy I actually had to stop reading.

Language- My main problem was that the dialogue didn’t sound like the 1700s. The went around saying ‘yeah’ and ‘just kidding’ and other phrases that felt anachronistic. Did they use modern swear words in the 1700s? These characters did. However, aside from this fault, the dialogue was strong and cohesive and easy to follow.

Otherwise, the lush descriptions and strong figurative language all were rich and powerful, without taking away from the action or characters. Aside from that dialogue quibble, I really liked the language.

Characters-AAAAAAA yes.

Kell- Is half a crown possession, half a part of the royal family (he sees the prince Rhy as his brother, but not the king and queen as his parents. They took him from his home and removed any memories of his previous life, for example).He tries to be all grumpy, but he appreciates how good his life is (compared to other Antari), and he loves Rhy so much, and he’s trying to do the right thing, but with something like the stone and it’s magic, that’s very hard. So basically he’s a cinnamon roll at the side.

Lila- is a Grey London pickpocket who meets (and steals from) Kell. Their relationship is obviously, on these grounds, cute (but not really a relationship relationship, ya know). She’s used to the rough life, but despite being a thief, she has this strong sense of justice (exhibit A: Gives stolen money to a little beggar, who is robbed by three big thugs. Decides to take them out. Fails.). She has an interesting relationship with Barron, the owner of the Grey London tavern, and dreams of being a pirate. What she wants most is adventure (although her life as a cross-dressing thief seems adventurous to me), and Kell seems to represent that.

The secondary characters were all interesting, but I don’t feel like talking about them.

Overall-HIGHLY RECOMMEND to fans of fantasy, especially urban /historical fantasy.


characters: 4/5




Have you read ADSOM? (should you? YES) What books have you read with interesting premises recently? How do you feel about urban fantasy?







13 thoughts on “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

  1. I read ADSOM and liked it too, so I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you like Schwab’s writing, I really recommend her other book Vicious, which I liked more than ADSOM. c:
    I really agree that the setting is amazing – it was so exciting to see the other Londons. I hope to read A Gathering of Shadows soon though; I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of Black London and I NEED to know what’s there!

    Great review, Shar! 🙂


  2. I wasn’t a big fan of ADSOM but I’m glad you liked it! I haven’t found any books that had quite as impressive settings, though. I’ll have to keep looking.


  3. I NEED TO READ THIS ❤ why is everyone reading this book while I haven't? 😦 Haha. I'm so glad that you liked this because the characters seem fantastic, and I like how the setting has places like White London and stuff. I'm so excited for this ❤ Thanks for the review!

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books


    1. YES READ IT AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK PLEASE. The entire book was fabuloso (and don’t question my usage of that word). Just go and read it now, okay?


  4. *SHRIEKS FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOPS WITH JOY FOR THIS BOOK* omgggg honestly it is one of my most FAVOURITE of hugely FAVOURITE books in the universe. ❤ I procrastinated reading it for so long because of the hype but afjdsklad it was worth it. Kell is a precious moody thing. Lila is so very stabby. I ADORE Rhy. And omg the world building is incredible and I want to dissolve into that book immediately. :') The sequel is also superb I AM JUST SAYIN'


    1. (along with a few out favourites of hugely favourites, amiright? *cough* steifvater *cough* ) Rhy = so interesting and I waaaaant MOAR. I personally don’t want to dissolve into the world because hello, astrid twins? black night? #no And AGOS is better so far imo. 😀


  5. A lot of today’s swear words come from what was considered to be the language of the common people way back when (finally found a link to verify this – – sorry, I’m a bit of a language geek). Depending on how early they became swear words, they MIGHT have used them in the 1700s. But, yeah, I agree that some of the dialogue was not very Georgian. 😉
    Still, I enjoyed this book. Glad that you liked it too. 🙂


    1. This is super interesting. Thank you rain! For some reason our swearwords felt modern to me, but maybe that’s because they’re still applicable? *hi fives for liking ADSOM*


    1. I’m halfway through AGOS (so technically following your instructions?) The setting-the four Londons- was so original it was like my favourite ❤ 🙂 (that doesn't mean I want to live there though)

      Liked by 1 person

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