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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

By 08:35:00 , ,

I'm very patiently ( - okay, fine, not patiently at all!) waiting for my library to get the second book in this series so I can finally finish it, and I realised I hadn't reviewed the first book at all. So because this book is one of my recent favourites, and because I miss this world, and Kell and Lila (and Rhy!!), I'm going to rectify my mistake right now.

Kell is a magician, a Traveller. He is one of the only people in the world who can still manage travel between four parallel Londons. His work consists of delivering letters between the rulers of Red, White, and Grey Londons, but he has a side-business of smuggling trinkets from one world to another.
Lila Bard wants to be a pirate. She's more comfortable in men's clothing, she's a pretty good thief, and she knows how to take care of herself. Running into Kell on the streets of Grey London, Lila gets herself mixed up in the magician's business and decides to stick around for adventure. Neither realises how dangerous a bit of adventure can get.

The idea of parallel Londons works so well! Having the fate of an entire universe (or several) on one's shoulders makes a pretty good plot device. Kell is a good protagonist, and there was some good character development going on there. His interactions with Lila must have made him see his own situation more clearly, especially when it comes to his family of sorts.

Now, Delilah Bard was maybe the best thing about this book for me. Her narration and the dialogue between her and Kell were the funniest parts - and also contributed to keeping the story moving. They're both magnets for trouble so there is no way for the story to stagnate! But to return to Lila - I'm so happy to have a female character who pulls her weight and saves the hero as often as he saves her. She's not just the obligatory love interest, in fact she's not much of a love interest at all. Lila is a complex character, and she'll do anything to survive, without feeling too guilty about it. We get to see so much strength in this one female character and it just makes me really happy. Maybe because a lot of fantasy novels are a bit...male protagonist heavy? 

I wasn't going to rant but I can't stop myself so just forgive me, please. Women are people too. They can be bitchy and complex, and bad ass and still not be evil - they can still want to save the world! They're allowed to be whatever they want!
Okay. *ahem.*

In summary: Kell and Lila were really interesting characters, and I absolutely adored the world-building. I wish we'd learned more about Rhy but hopefully in the next book, I guess. A Darker Shade of Magic is a really strong start for a new series by V.E. Schwab. Can't wait to get my hands on the next one!

Also, if you needed just one more reason to love Lila Bard:

This would have to be one of my favourite books from 2015!

Have you read V.E. Schwab before? Do you have any other recent (or not so recent) fantasy books you've loved?


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