Released: February 24, 2015
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books
” Am I glad I finally got around to picking this up? Yes I am. It was an exciting read and I enjoyed every page of it. Do I think it lived up to the pedestal I’ve seen a lot of people place it on? Probably not.”
~ Under the Covers
Kell is one of the last Antari, one of the only people to be able to travel between the parallel Londons: White London, where the magic is violent and vicious; Red London where magic thrives and Grey London where magic is all but dead. A native of Red London, he travels between the parallel cities and carries messages between the monarchs of each London. But, messages aren’t the only things he carries between the world; smuggling as become a habit he can’t break, despite the dangers. But, when a smuggling job goes awry, he pulls in it has far larger consequences than he can imagine putting all the Londons and those he loves in deadly peril. With the help of Delilah ‘Lila’ Bird, a street hardened young woman from Grey London, Kell must find a way to a place not even an Antari can get to: Black London.
This is one of those book that I have been meaning to read for a while, but have just never gotten around to actually picking it up. Luckily it fit into one of the challenges in romanceopoly: read a book where the hero/heroine goes on a journey. A Darker Shade of Magic fit perfectly into this. Am I glad I finally got around to picking this up? Yes I am. It was an exciting read and I enjoyed every page of it. Do I think it lived up to the pedestal I’ve seen a lot of people place it on? Probably not.
What really stood out for me in this book and what will propel me to read the next book in this series is Lila. On paper, I would have thought her tendency to launch herself head long into the most dangerous situations, on purpose, just for the rush of it, would annoy me. However, Schwab does a great job of making the reader sympathetic to this compulsion of hers as we see beyond her headstrong nature to her ambitions and her fears, as well as a glimpse into the life that has forged her into the character she is.
With Lila being such a vibrant character, I felt like Kell, even thought he is arguably the main protagonist in the story, got completely overshadowed. Although we had a lot more history and character building for him, he still managed to feel flat in comparison. It felt like he was there to provide information on this new parallel world concept and literally act as a vehicle for getting himself and Lila from one place to another. I never felt his struggles or any connection to him, and he never quite felt real in the same way Lila did.
The world and the story itself were interesting, if not particularity original. Lila and Kell have a semi sentient object of great power, which is steadily trying to corrupt them (sound familiar?) and they must find away of getting rid of it before it destroys all the parallel Londons. It was fun to read, nicely paced read and I enjoyed seeing all the different London’s. But, it wasn’t riveting. This book was doing a lot of heavy lifting in terms of building the world, so a more complex story might have been quite burdensome to read as the right ‘infrastructure’ wasn’t quite in place. But, it definitely has potential.
This was a good read, but it didn’t wow me like it has other reader, but it was a solid start to a fantasy/urban fantasy series. It left open enough mysterious circumstances regarding both Lila and Kell’s past that I am interested enough to further in this trilogy.
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Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?