Shades of Magic · V.E Schwab · Young Adult

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab


An absolutely brilliant, entertaining plot with incredible world-building and multidimensional characters makes this one of my favorite books so far this year! I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner! A superb story and one you must read!


Essentially, A Darker Shade of Magic is about a guy named Kell who is an Antari (a powerful blood magic user), an ambassador, as well as a smuggler who is able to travel to different parallel Londons. It’s his smuggling business that gets him into a whole lot of trouble and threatens the very world in which he lives.

I thought the plot was incredible! It was interesting, detailed, and perfectly paced. I LOVE getting to the characters before anything really starts to happen and with the slower, yet interesting, beginning, Schwab does just that! She also picks up the pace a bit later on and I was sitting up in bed just waiting to see what was going to happen. It was so exciting! The action scenes were also perfectly detailed and purely enjoyable.

It also wasn’t predictable. I didn’t know how it would turn out or if everyone would survive. I thoroughly enjoy books like this a lot more than others because when I can predict it, it just becomes boring.

“Bad magic, Kell had called it.

No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.

And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week.”

Though the plot itself is pretty simple, I did find parts of the story to be fairly complex (mostly due to the different Londons and how everything works), though it wasn’t too confusing. The further I read, the more I enjoyed the story and the more I understood. This was all done perfectly to prevent a ton of info dumping. Information is provided in small doses throughout the story.

The other thing I love about this book is that it could essentially stand-alone. I felt satisfied after finishing the book and though I want to read the others (duh!) I don’t have the immediate need to do so because I wasn’t left with a huge cliffhanger.

I thought long and hard to find something negative to say about the plot and the book itself but I just can’t. 🙂


Discovering the world for yourself I think is a lot of fun so I won’t be going into too much detail. There are four different Londons in parallel universes, each very different from the other. There is Grey London, which is our own, Red, White, and Black, though Black London fell long ago and no one talks about it now.

I thought the different Londons were all fascinating and I loved each one that we got to see. Hopefully, more of Black London will be discussed in the other novels.

“He’s … charming and spoiled, generous and fickle and hedonistic. He would flirt with a nicely upholstered chair, and he never takes anything seriously.”

At first, I was worried that we were not going to get very good descriptions of the other Londons because as we followed Kell to each of them there wasn’t much detail. It isn’t until later on that we get to learn about them in perfect detail. I can’t begin to explain how much I enjoyed the world-building in this novel

I can’t begin to explain how much I enjoyed the world-building in this novel. Not only are there different Londons but there are different kinds of magic. Mostly, we learn about Antari blood magic because that’s who the main character is but we also get to witness more malevolent magic as well and this is where the story really gets interesting.


I adore the characters in this novel. I love that there are only a few of them and that they are all distinct.

Kell is incredibly charming, sweet, caring, and loving, though he can also be haughty and arrogant but I love it. Not to mention he always has a comeback ready. He just feels so real. I also love the relationship he has with his brother. Sweetest thing ever and they are not even blood-related.

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.”

Lila is just amazing. I love strong female characters and she is just that. I know she is supposed to come off as the antiheroine but I love her anyway. She is just doing what she has to. I just love her fiery attitude, stubbornness, mostly fearlessness, and how strong she is. She just doesn’t let anything show. Her banter with Kell is just awesome and I love Kell’s reactions to some of the things she says and does. Her love for weapons and stealing is also hilarious.

Rhy…oh I just love him. Though he just wasn’t in this book enough. I’m going to be super upset if he is not more prominent in the other two books. He is funny, charming, sweet, and loves his people. He just wants to become the best King he can. His relationship with his brother is also amazing and I’m glad he loves Kell so much.

The Dane twins were just fucking creepy and the viewpoints of other characters (because something inhabits them) just adds more to the story. I love other viewpoints that just perfectly contribute to the story. This was done so well!

“’I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.

All the characters have their own distinct, interesting personality and I can’t wait to see them all again in the next book! 🙂


OMG! I can’t believe that even the writing was phenomenally engrossing! It flowed perfectly and was focused and concise.  The descriptions were so vivid! This book is so incredibly quotable! Flawless writing!


The cover is absolutely gorgeous! At least the illustration is anyway. I hate to say it but there are blurbs on the front! UGH! WHY???? There also is no mention of this book being part of a series. Otherwise, I love the color, the illustration, and it’s simplicity.

~Review Spotlight~

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2 thoughts on “A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

  1. Been on my TBR for a while but the YA tag has kept me away from reading it , since I don’t even remember what the last YA book I enjoyed was , but your review now has given me thoughts to reconsider 🤔

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