A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
(A Darker Shade of Magic #1)
February 24, 2015
Contains: Violence, Some language, some sexual innuendo
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.
Lila, local thief and fiercely independent despite her difficult circumstances, finds herself in Kell's path, and with that, in almost as much trouble as he is. As a thief, she's smart, calculating, determined, and practically fearless. Though Kell and Lila's personalities clash, they find their loyalty to each other growing, and their need for the other to survive becoming more evident.
I genuinely enjoyed this read. I listened to the audiobook and found the narrator enchanting as he led me through the story and the different Londons. My only negative is that I did not like his voices for Kell and Lila. They just didn't fit how I thought they should sound. He sounded too old, and she reminded me of Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. But overall, I still enjoyed listening to the story.
I also liked the action that drove the story. At first, trying to remember all the differences with the four Londons and the magic rules was a little daunting. But slowly but surely I got the hang of it. But the driving of the plot was exciting, making me genuinely fear for the main characters, and wince at the cruelty of some of their foes. It as all quite facinating, right up to the end.
Now, the romance lover in me was a bit disappointed. But the ending left a whole lot open for anything to happen in the future books. No cliffhanger. Just a solid - this is where everything is at now and just imagine what might happen next - kind of ending. This was solidly enjoyable for a fantasy lover.