Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

Yeah, that’s right. You are seeing this post correctly! I have finally broke down and read A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab. So for all of you who have been telling me I have got to read this book… This is for you. 🙂

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

This was a fun read. I think Schwab did an amazing job with her unique world building and storytelling. The writing was solid, I never had any trouble being confused with what was going on or which character’s POV I was reading. I think both POV’s had a very distinct voice and personality which I really appreciated. There was also a nice flow throughout the book with things, never any lull in the action. Though things really started picking up about 200 pages in.

Lila – I’m going to be honest, I spent most of this book really not enjoying her. We just couldn’t connect at all. It almost felt like Schwab was trying too hard to have a main character be this badass and independent woman that is so popular right now, but just failed convincing me that it was real. She seemed like a bit of a try-hard. I felt that the only descriptions we had of her were about how she dressed and acted like boy, how good she was with a weapon, blah blah blah. It was practically shoved down our throats. I was like, alright alright, I get that she’s sooooo awesome. UGH. However, towards the end I stopped glazing over when the chapter switched to her POV and finally got into it a bit more. I don’t know if I just got used to it or if she actually changed into a more likable character. Jury is still out on this one and I’ll have to see how she is in A Gathering of Shadows.

Bad magic, Kell had called it.No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week.

Kell – Now I enjoyed him. He seemed like a real person with his own flaws and strengths. You could tell he was alone and yet I really enjoyed his relationship with Rhy. You could really feel how much of a connection there was between the two of them (literally, haha!). Either way, I enjoyed Kell’s POV the most and found him to be more tons more interesting than Lila. Bust out the pitchforks but there it is!

And all I have to say about those villains…AMAZING. They vicious and evil and so damn cool.


This was a fun read. I think Schwab did an amazing job with her unique world building and storytelling. The writing was solid, I never had any trouble being confused with what was going on or which character’s POV I was reading. I think both POV’s had a very distinct voice and personality which I really appreciated. The beginning was a bit slow for me but got better as it went along.

However, I do have to say that for 3/4 of this book, it was just okay. It was good but I wasn’t wowed by it. I don’t know if I was just in a mini slump or all of the hype surrounding this book affected how I viewed it. But I was having to force myself to pick it up. Luckily, towards the end, everything came together and the plot really got going. I started truly enjoying it and couldn’t put the book down. And because of that, I bumped up my originally planned rating by one star. I’m looking forward to seeing if it gets even better in the next book!

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

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Obsessive book reader and blogger. Texas girl. Sports fanatic. Lover of travel, video games, and scented candles. I also just really enjoy sleeping. #noshame

29 thoughts on “Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)”

  1. They’re “connection,” haha, I saw what you did there. You made a lot of good points about this book, especially about Lila (though I did like her–in the first book.) Funny how tropes run their course. Many readers seem to be ready for female leads with a new/different/diverse kind of feminine strength. Myself included, which is incredible for me to admit since I’ve been a diehard fan of kickass female protagonists since forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I’m so glad you got it!.. It’s weird that I couldn’t connect with Lila because I actually really enjoy such strong female leads. But I think with her, it didn’t seem real, it was almost a caricature of a strong female character. I mean that was literally the only way she was ever described and I just didn’t buy it. It seemed too put on for me. I actually finished Vengeance Road last night and the MC in it is the same type of character but I absolutely LOVED her, so I don’t know what the deal is with Lila.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you read it! But yes, for some reason these books are AMAZING but hard for me to just sit and read. A Gathering of Shadows is having the same effect, so I suspect around 3/4 of the way I won’t be able to stop reading. I’m looking forward to that part! Oh, and Lila gets better (:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who had this problem! Everyone just talks about how amazing it is and how they can’t put it down but it was a struggle for me to even pick it up for a while in the beginning. I’m taking a bit of a break and reading some other stuff before I tackle AGOS. Glad to hear that Lila gets better!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I WANT TO READ THIS BOOOK SO BAD HAHA 🙈🙈 just to find it for myself how it was !Im sorry you couldnt connect with the main character. That kinda ruin the reading experience sometimes 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m reading this book right now! Just started it and so far I’d agree that the writing is solid, though the beginning IS very slow. Too bad that 3/4 of the book is just okay – I’m not happy for you, but I sure hope I think it’s better. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad someone else feels the same way! It just seemed like in the beginning a lot was happening but nothing was really happening if that makes any sense. 😂 I hope you end up enjoying it!


  5. That’s one amazing review! ❤ I'm so glad you've read and enjoy it. I just finished this book recently too, and I love it (but I have to agree, the book is quite slow, though the writing makes it all better 😉 ) Can't wait to hear your thoughts on AGOS! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really love this series, it’s one of my all-time favourites though V.E. Schwab has yet to write anyhting I haven’t loved, but I do agree the first book started a little slow. I think it was so the world-building could actually be developed which was good because like you said Schwab did an amazing job with her world building.
    The second book is definitely better, I hope you like Lila a little more in it as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I think most of that was getting the character development and world-building out of the way before the plot could really pick up! But in my opinion the second one is SO much better, I really hope you love it just as much as I do 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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