A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

#BeatTheBacklist book 11
2017 book 11

Format: Print (hardcover)
Length: 398 pages
Published: 2015

I knew pretty early into this book that I didn’t love it, but I have a thing about finishing books that I start.  When I was a kid, I pulled a book off of the library shelf.  I can still picture the cover.  It had a black hand in a red rectangle.  I liked the cover. So, I pulled this book and I checked it out and I took it home.  It scared the crap out of me.  I don’t remember anything about it except that it was scary.  So, I took it back to the library.  Bad idea.

The lack of resolution haunted me.  I had dreams for months about that book.  Vague, unresolved, terrifying dreams.  I went back to the library and tried to find it again, but I couldn’t remember the title or the author.  I remembered the cover and the approximate location on the library shelf where I had found it, but that wasn’t enough information and I was never able to find it again.

Ever since then I feel compelled to finish books that I start.

What It’s About…

There are four Londons in four parallel universes (my words).  There is grey London.  That is our London, although this book takes place before our time during the reign of King George III (the English king during the Revolutionary War who possibly suffered from bipolar disorder or perhaps porphyria).  Grey London has little or no magic.  There is also Red London, where magic is revered and respected and White London where magic is a tool to be wielded in the quest for power.  Finally, there is Black London which has been consumed by magic.  The doors to Black London have been closed forever to protect the other Londons.

Most people cannot travel between Londons.  In fact, there are only two known to have the ability to travel at this time.  Kell, Red London’s Antari (magical ambassador), and his corollary from White London, Holland.  Kell unintentionally comes to possess an object of great magical power and inadvertently smuggles it from one London to another.  The object is a stone from Black London made of pure magic.  In Grey London, a thief named Delilah Bard steals it from him, but does not at first understand its significance.  Delilah and Kell partner up to dispose of the stone and save the Londons.

The White London monarchs are vicious and power hungry.  The Red London monarchs are a complacent and preoccupied with more mundane matters like birthday celebrations. The Grey London monarch is inconsequential.  Kell and Delilah are in danger and can count only on each other.

What I thought…

Meh. The premise was fine, but not awesome.  The characters are a little whiny and self-absorbed in general and I never really liked any of them.  The obstacles they face are insurmountable, but they are somehow overcome.  Some people live, some people die, and I just couldn’t bring myself to care overly much.  This is the first book in a series, but I will skip the rest of them.


I am keeping an ever changing list of the books I am reading as part of a Beat The Backlist Challenge here.  I’m always looking for recommendations!




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