A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
We meet Kell, the magician, who travels between parallel worlds and who was adopted into the royal family. His early childhood is a mystery he wants to solve. He has family issues.
And we meet Lila, the nineteen year old thief, struggling to survive in Grey London. I am deeply suspicious of one of her bodily features. Not telling you which, as it could be a spoiler.
The parallel worlds are Grey, Red, White and Black London. One is all out of magic, one is full of it and Kell‘s home. One is cruel and one has ended, due to evil magic. I like how Lila puts it, when she and Kell meet and eventually team up:
“There‘s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,“…
Grey London resembles our world, specifically Regency England.
The story is a mystery, a conspiracy, an adventure and a fight against evil. There is smuggling, thievery, but sadly no pirates.
It took me quite a while, but eventually I made it to Part 5, a third into the book and finally, finally all the set-up was done, all the characters were introduced and something interesting happened! Yay! The high fantasy, full of magic systems, turned into Frodo and Sam, ready to go on an adventure. Imagine trying to reach Mordor, with Samwise Gamgee having a sense of humour. Anyway, that comparison is limping quite heavily…
Bottom line, this is well written, the characters have enough depth to be interesting, I liked the magic system and the parallel Londons, the plot is nice. It just didn‘t really engage me. It was ok, but I could have put it down any time and wouldn’t have missed it. It‘s unlikely that I will pick up the next book in the series (triology?).