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A Darker Shade of Magic

(Shades of Magic #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  277,261 ratings  ·  35,057 reviews
Librarian note: Older cover of 9781783295401.

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 27th 2015 by Titan Books (first published February 24th 2015)
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Rebecca I know this is late to the party, but Schwab answered this on her Twitter, so I thought I'd add that here. She said that you can tell based on the way…moreI know this is late to the party, but Schwab answered this on her Twitter, so I thought I'd add that here. She said that you can tell based on the way her name is listed on the book. Victoria Schwab=YA, V.E. Schwab=Adult :)(less)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  277,261 ratings  ·  35,057 reviews

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Emily May
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, arc, 2015
Every night of the year, the market lived and breathed and thrived. The stalls were always changing, but the energy remained, as much a part of the city as the river it fed on. Kell traced the edge of the bank, weaving through the evening fair, savoring the taste and smell of the air, the sound of laughter and music, the thrum of magic.

I'm already a Victoria Schwab fan after reading her good vs evil superhero urban fantasy novel - Vicious - so I couldn't wait to get reacquainted with her add
“As Travars,” he said. Travel.

And oh boy, I did travel. I was covered in smoke, I tasted metal, I smelled roses, I wore a bizarre coat and I dreamed under a pale sky. But unfortunately, I did not feel.

A Darker Shade of Magic had great potential. The world V.E. Schwab created is fascinating, full of magic and blood. There is Kell, an Antari, a blood magician who can travel between parallel universes, and Lila, a street thief who wants to become a pirate and experience great adventure
Rick Riordan
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
YA/adult Fantasy. There isn't just one London. There are, in fact, four cities sharing that name and geographic location, each in a very different plane of existence. The novel takes place in the early 1800s, when magical travel between the different Londons has been severely restricted. Long ago, the place called Black London underwent a massive magical accident -- a sort of implosion during which the forces of magic consumed the humans who tried to wield it. Since then, the doors between the w ...more
Victoria Schwab
I wrote this book, so I'm probably biased. Since it's early, and the full jacket copy isn't out, here's a list of things in ADSOM:


–Cross-dressing thieves

–(Aspiring) pirates

–Londons (plural)

–Sadistic kings (and queens)

–A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness

–More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)

–Epic magicky fights scenes


–And coats with more than two sides
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I'm so glad I decided to re-read this before carrying on with the trilogy! There were SO many things I had forgotten. Can't wait to get to book two!

V.E. Schwab does it again! It amazes me how she continues to get better and better with each book she puts out into the world. I need the sequel ASAP.

Darth J
An Overhyped Shade of Mediocre

Before you jump down my throat, I didn’t hate this novel as much as I felt let down by it. Let me explain: it’s been hyped up everywhere and when that happens, expectations tend to run very high. Think back to when you were a kid and wanted something for your birthday so much and were so sure that you were going to get it; and even if you got plenty of nice things, the fact that you didn’t get the one thing you wanted made you disappointed. That’s the same feeling I
Miranda Reads
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

“I'm not going to die," she said. "Not till I've seen it."

"Seen what?"

Her smile widened. "Everything.”
Kell - one of the last Antari - is playing a dangerous game. Being an Antari, he travels between worlds.

He knows of four worlds and all four of them have one, conveniently overlapping city: London.

Grey London - Magicless, technology driven.

Red London - Magic is considered a gift and is practiced with careful determination

White London - Magic is cruel, often needs to be
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
”Magic was a truly beautiful disease.”

And it was such a pleasure to read about it! XD I can’t say how much I loved and adored this book! Alone the magic in this was everything and it was so dark and twisted that it was a delight to read about it. In “A Darker Shade of Magic” magic is a living and breathing thing and it can help and heal at least as much as it can corrupt and destroy. In my opinion this was a really great concept and I lived and breathed for the execution of it.

”The words themse
The Burning Rose (Jess)
"Death comes for everyone. I'm not afraid of dying. But I am afraid of dying here. I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

And it indeed WAS a great adventure. I’m so glad I picked up this book. Should have done this long ago.

Kell is a magician named Antari. He has the ability to travel between Londons. Kell works for Red London royalty. Or should I say- was adopted by the royalties. But, he has always felt as a possession and not as a family member. Well, except for the relat
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an unpopular opinion, if you’re easily offended, please don’t read this review.

Okay, 3 stars is still a good rating but I think rating aDSoM 3 stars on Goodreads is like I’m an E.T who arrives in London. This is my sixth month on Goodreads and throughout that period, there are three series that always appeared on my feeds and probably everyone else. First, Six of Crows duology, second, anything that came out of Sarah J Maas’s head and finally, the Shade of Magic trilogy by V.E Schwab. It
Elle (ellexamines)
“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

Actual Rating: 4 1/2 Stars, but honestly every time I round this down I end up putting it back up a day later. So you may notice this book is kind of polarizing within the adult sff community; a little bit And for me personally it is.... such a fave. I keep returning to this world and these characters and I doubt I’ll ever stop.

For the appro
Hannah Azerang
Jan 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My spoiler free video review is now up!!: https://youtu.be/hINnk0eqj8I

4.5 Stars

All I can say is WOW!

That was incredible!!

First off, the characters were FANTASTIC! Schwab is truly a master when it comes to crafting multidimensional, well rounded, and flawed characters. Rhy is so pure and precious. Kell deserves love and happiness. And Lila. Lila Bard is my new queen.

This was truly one of the most realistic fantasy worlds I've ever read about. I mean that in the sense that the world seemed like
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
*Upon a reread, my passion for this book stands. I love it so much. I can't believe I actually get to move on to book 2 this time. I JUST LOVE IT.

My thoughts: "Now, think critically. There were one or two things you maybe didn't love quite as much as everything else. A 4.5 accurately sums up your feelings and shows you didn't think the book was absolutely perfect."
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

4.5 stars

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is one of those books that I needed to reflect upon before reviewing.

As far as I can tell this happens to me for one of two reasons:

1. It was awful, but in a way that confounded me, either b/c it was an author whom I love and trust and WTH happened? Or b/c my issue(s) is nebulous and thus has to be dissected to determine the root of the problem.
2. It was amazeballs, but in a way that confounded me, b/c SO MUCH CLEVER.

This was a #2 situati
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I read this again. I really don’t know if I want it to be a three star; maybe lower. I’m seriously changing how I feel over books or maybe I really felt that way. I just know I’m unhauling many things. I am going to keep the audibles of these books as I do like the narration


This is the first book I have read by this author and it won't be the last. I thought this one was pretty good. I didn't even think I would like it at first and I'm not sure why, but I di
Kai Spellmeier
“A life worth having is a life worth taking.”

Wow. I'm stunned and I'm in awe.

Incredible world-building, beautiful language and an intruiging plot make this 5 out of 5 stars. And let's not forget about the "cross-dressing thieves", "sadistics kings (and queens)" and my favourite the "royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness". I love Rhy.

This novel started as it ended: magical, sensational and breath-taking. It is as beautiful from the outside, as it is from the inside. It's the kin
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
#1 A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★★★
#2 A Gathering of Shadows ★★★★★
#3 A Conjuring of Light ★★★★★

"There's Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London. See? I'm a fast learner."

Despite the fact that the four Londons share a name, they have little else in common; one is brimming with life, one is held captive by wicked rulers, one has no magic at all, and one is dead. While there used to be traversing between the Londons, now the doors have been sealed to all except the Antari: magicians
*Major spoilers ahead. They won’t be marked*

I was really hesitant going into this one because hello??? I usually end up hating on the most hyped books loved by all my friends. However, I’m so fucking happy and shocked that I actually enjoyed this.

This book is dark and gripping book full of magic. I loved it and I wanted to give this 5 stars, I really wanted to, but the beginning took some time getting into and it was very dull and boring. The beginning of this book felt like I was reading a tex
3.5 stars

There was just something about this one that kept it from totally rocking, and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. It was good, just not (for me) great.
Kinda dry maybe? Or I just didn't totally connect with the characters?
Not sure.


But it's still one of those books that I'm glad I read, and I'm actually really looking forward to reading more about this world/worlds that Schwab created.
And I seriously mean that! There's something cool about this setting and these characters that
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i have an unexpected three day weekend and i cant think of a more productive way to spend it than by starting a new series/trilogy! so i did queen schwab the honour of entering and experiencing her world of many londons.

okay, one thing that i have come to realise is that schwab is a grower, not a shower, as it takes me quite some time before i feel settled within her stories. i would even say she has perfected the art of a slow burn because at times when i didnt feel like anything is happening,
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t been said before. But in short, this is just perfect. Every page is magic and every scene has a purpose. The characters bring life into this book. The magic system and the writing style is unique and a breath of fresh air. VE Schwab’s writing style truly shines through and I loved every moment of this. Reading this book feels like stumbling into something wholly new and familiar at the same time. Reading this was an adventure with magic and drama. Reading ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Carefully crafted world building; well-developed and likable characters; a heroine that's both kickass and maturely written; and a very pretty book cover to top it all off. I've stayed up past bedtime to read this book and it's well worth it. ...more
Robin Hobb
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently met V.E. Schwab and found her entertaining and charming. So I acquired one of her books! I don't think my review of this work is affected by knowing the author, but I like to be transparent.

I always like to avoid spoilers, but in this case, I think the book jacket gives away a bit of the setting, so I'll share it here as well. Imagine four Londons, existing simultaneously but separately. Each has a differing amount of magic, with black London a loss, and Red London a place where magic
booksnpenguins (lance orion approved)
I finally finished this book. I say finally because it took me a lot to get through - and into- it, and I'm not entirely satisfied with what I read.
I'm a huge Victoria Schwab's fan, she's both an amazing author and a really kind person that I'd spend days worshiping. Vicious is one of my favorite books of all time and her writing is very original.
Yet this book...
I can't tell you if I loved it or not, if maybe I should try and reread it in another moment, because maybe I'm too dumb
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: 5 stars
Who was I kidding OF COURSE THIS WAS A 5 STAR READ. I can't stop thinking about it and I love it so much.

4.5 stars!!!!!
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diverse-reads
Magic was a living thing—that, everyone knew—but to Kell it felt like more, like a friend, like family. It was, after all, a part of him (much more than it was a part of most) and he couldn’t help feeling like it knew what he was saying, what he was feeling, not only when he summoned it, but always, in every heartbeat and every breath. He was, after all, Antari.

*This review contains spoilers.*

I just finished this book and my mind is all over the place.
I went into this book not knowing much abo
Charlotte May
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Damn! This had everything I ever need in a fantasy novel.
- Intricate yet understandable magic system
- Original world building
- Little to no romance
- Solid evil villains
- Fantastic characters with humour
- Addictive storyline

Guys I absolutely adored this, and how has it taken me this long to read?
Writing this, I cannot think of even 1 think I disliked.

Kell is an Antari someone with magic powers, able to travel between the 4 Londons. Red - his home, Grey - the dull London where magic is nearly all
Joey Woolfardis
Kell is a magician-but a special kind of old-who has the ability through blood magic to cross the dimensions in to the different worlds, each of which has a London. Raised in Red London with his prince brother Rhy, Kell is a messenger, taking letters from the Red Royalty to those of other Londons. In Grey London-boring, magicless London-Kell runs in to his enemies as well as Lila, a thief, and must dispose of an object that has brought a whole different type of magic to the fore.

The premise of A
Claudia Ramírez
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I love Rhy I must protect him.

On to the next book!
No one is more let down by this rating than I am, trust me. I loved Vicious and it will go down as one of the best things I read in 2015. A Darker Shade of Magic was hollow in comparison. It had the beginnings of everything I could ask for but never truly followed through.

Kell and Lila were both superficial characters in my opinion. Think about what you can tell me about Kell. Well... he deals in blood magic and travels between the worlds. He loves his brother. Yep. That's basically all I got a
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V.E. Schwab is the author of more than 20 books for children, teens, and adults.

Other books in the series

Shades of Magic (3 books)
  • A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)
  • A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)

Articles featuring this book

At age 33, Victoria “V.E.” Schwab has published more than 20 novels (she’s writing now what will be her 22nd), including the 2020 hit and...
225 likes · 26 comments
“I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” 2706 likes
“I'm not going to die," she said. "Not till I've seen it."
"Seen what?"
Her smile widened. "Everything.”
More quotes…