A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Library Copy

Before I dive in, may I please rant a bit? It is 2015 and female writers of fantasy epics are still hiding behind gender-neutral pseudonyms to get recognition. Would A Darker Shade of Magic be the hit it is if her name would have been Victoria on the cover? Probably not, because I can almost promise that this book wouldn't even have such an evocative cover at all. This cover is absolutely what draws in many readers (It's very well designed, I have to say!) But if Victoria's name were on the cover, I'm pretty sure it would be a lot cheesier. That's just the tendency - but I'm no expert on it, so I'll end my rant here.

I was super stoked about reading this book! Yes, I was totally drawn to this fancy cover. Sometimes, like now, it doesn't lead me astray. I'd never even heard of Schwab before,
A Darker Shade of Magic is about a young man named Kell who has a unique ability in which he can traverse between, well, I guess 'dimensions.' Basically, there are four different versions of London, and because of his ability pretty much only he can go between them because Kell is an Antari. He's an Ambassador for "Red London" and travels between the other Londons - each one a snow flake - as a mediator. But he has a business on the side selling magical items to collectors that he's smuggled from the other Londons. His little hobby, as it were, accidentally gets him into a heap of trouble, in which Lila - a pick-pocket, cut-throat, cross-dresser, and aspiring pirate - helps him out of. Now the two are traveling between worlds somehow (very Doctor/Dr's Companion-esque) on an awfully big adventure.

I adored Kell from the start, but honestly I kind of hated Lila. I know, I should be supporting "Strong Female Characters" whenever I find them. But she just has zero chill. Still, I think there may be some interesting developments from her later in the series.

It was a lot of fun to read - my coworker might have had even more fun listening to my excited outbursts coming from my desk during our lunch breaks spent reading it. Though I thought this book wrapped up neatly, I am excited to see what happens in the next book on the series.

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