Mini Book Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic (Shades Of Magic #1), by V.E. Schwab

Fun And Unique Fantasy
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 27th 2015 by Titan Books (first published February 24th 2015)

This is a fun and brilliant story with a dark streak and witty characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book/Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

A Darker Shade Of Magic, by V.E. Schwab is a great fantasy, it is funny, witty and original with a dark undertone that ties the story together wonderfully. The writing is simple and easy to read, the characters are witty and dynamic and the story is unique and thrilling.

V.E. Schwab has a fantastic writing style in this book, it is simple, direct and easy to read but is weaved with beautiful descriptions that draw you in and bring the settings alive. It is incredibly easy to fly through this book as it has such a unique concept and is full of witty dialogue. The style perfectly balances humour, wit, logic and danger throughout the story and maintains a decent pace from start to finish without becoming tiring or falling into a lull. From the beautiful settings to the magical action and fight scenes, the writing is effective and perfectly matches the story.

The multiple narrative perspective is also very effective, the primary narratives being from Kell and Lila. Both perspectives are very effective and give us insight into two very different lives. The alternating narratives maintains the pace of the story and allows us to see the characters own views on the events and relationships they are building, it also allows us a window into how two very different people view the different Londons and uses of magic.

The story is very unique and the magic is rooted in tradition but is still very original. The manipulation of elements but also the addition of the Antari and their ability to manipulate blood and travel through doorways is very intriguing. I really loved how each London had a different view of magic and how it works, the conflict over whether it is something to be controlled and ordered or whether it is natural and should be trusted and guided was a very clever concept that added depth to the book and allowed you to see both sides and draw your own conclusions.

It was also intriguing to see the cost of using magic, the Londons being a physical manifestation of what can go wrong if you use magic selfishly but also the physical toll it can take on the user. The limits and restrictions make it feel more realistic, which helps to bring the world alive. The magic system has a lot of components to it and it grows more complex as the story goes on but it is still easy to follow and understand, the complexities makes the magic feel like its own element – which in this world it sort of is – and its multiple forms, uses and restrictions truly brings it alive.

The concepts of the four Londons was also intriguing because while they are like parallel worlds they go beyond this and I thought this was incredibly unique! I loved that the town/city of London was similar in each of these worlds but in actuality they are nowhere near the same, the difference in language, country and history adds a whole new dynamic to this idea and to the story itself as parallel worlds are a common trope but this one takes that idea and makes it something highly original.

The story itself is fantastic, I loved watching Kell go from London to London trying to fix the problem that has arisen and his encounters with Lila are highly amusing and fun to read about. I don’t want to talk about the plot too much for those who haven’t read this yet but it is truly brilliant and I loved how each concept comes together to great an epic adventure full of danger. It was a very surprising story at times with a lot of twists and turns to shock you, some elements may be a little predictable but this is such a fun story that it doesn’t take away from it. The only plot based issue I had was I felt the ending was tied up a little too neatly considering the problems, conflicts and battles that occur throughout this book.

The characters are delightful to read about, they are dynamic, fun, interesting and witty. Kell is a great character he has the charm and intelligence that make you fall in love with him and the wit and snark that makes you laugh and as the story goes on he faces a lot of challenges. I do feel he could have had a little more personal development but out of all the characters he is likely one who develops most.

Lila, again I don’t feel she went through much personal development either, but I did like her character. She was headstrong, witty and determined which I liked and she was quite clever though does make a couple of questionable decisions in the course of the story. But, she can handle herself which I liked and she wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done.

There are a lot of side characters/other important characters from Rhy to Holland etc.. all of which were equally fun to read about these two specifically had some excellent scenes as they both have strong personalities – and I did love the cast of characters, I just hope to see more development in the rest of the series. I did love the relationships between all of the characters though and can’t wait to see how these change and develop as the series goes on!

Overall, this was a fun, witty and intriguing book – the story was unique, the magic phenomenal and the characters amusing. I loved that the story was fun but that is also had a dark streak with some high risks and the concept of the book was excellent. I will definitely be continuing this series as the world just draws you in and the magic keeps you there!

I would recommend this to fantasy lovers, magic lovers and those who want a fun adventure with streaks of darkness and danger.


  1. I love how deeply you’ve broken the book down into its many elements. From your review I can tell that the book must have had fantastic world building. I’m glad you loved it! Stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. VE Schwab is one of those authors that I want to read at least one book by – someday – sooner rather than later. What a short review for you 😉 but great as always – always so wonderfully detailed. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You can put me on the naughty step because I didn’t like this book at all. Oops! I know…I’ve terribly unpopular opinions about it. Anyone else I know who has read this absolutely adores it! I’m glad you did too. Fab review KB 😊😊😊❤️💛💜💚💙

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂😂 Aha that’s fair enough, not all books are for everyone, I liked the story and the world – the characters definitely need more development though! Hehe, I forgive your unpopular opinion, I can see why this would not appeal to everyone. Thank you, hun I have heard the series gets better as it goes on so I am excited to see what happens! 💜😊😊💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this book & series. I would strongly recommend getting books 2 & 3 together, so you can immediately dive into the third after the second. Schwab is one of my absolute favourite authors, and I’m slowly making my way through her books now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Mini Book Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic (Shades Of Magic #1), by V.E. Schwab – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Red London, White London, Grey London and Black London. With magic sealed and only Red surviving healthily with it, the Londons rulers are tense. Black London was sealed off long ago, not even those magically able to travel can go there. But when something goes wrong, things start changing. […]


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