Review: “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab

darker shadeA Darker Shade of Magic
V.E. Schwab
★★ ★ ★

Tor, 2015.

My love of reading starts with Neil Gaiman. From there I worked my way backwards to discover the dreamlike work of Jorge Luis Borges and his ilk.

And now I’m seeing writers who were influenced by Gaiman, like V.E. Schwab, whose latest adult novel examines a series of parallel universes joined by one singular feature — the city of London.

There’s White London, ruled by the despotic twins Athos and Astrid, who murdered their way to the throne, hording any magic they can control. And Black London, which destroyed itself with powerful magic. And Grey London, our own world in the early 19th Century.

And Red London, where the magic and mundane coexist and our hero Kell works as a courier. The adopted son of the royal family, he is one of the last Antari, who are magically able to travel between the different Londons. He conveys messages and does a little smuggling on the side.

Which is what ultimately gets him in trouble as he inadvertently brings an artifact from Black London to Grey London with assassins in pursuit. This artifact ends up falling into the hands of Lila, a young thief who may be more powerful than she first seems.

The writing is a joy and the characterizations of the different Londons are vibrant —vivid, unique characters themselves, reminiscent of China Mieville.

Read my full review at “The Nameless Zine”.

—Michael Senft

Buy A Darker Shade of Magic

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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