Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
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.
I’ve been thinking really hard on how to start this review. Should I just drop the bomb and get away with it? It’s easier frankly. Then I realized a warning is the most appropriate way: I didn’t enjoy it. That’s right; I didn’t enjoy A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Yes, that A Darker Shade of Magic that I’d been anticipating for many months to read.
So what did really happen? How did it lead to this? Honestly, I’m still tad puzzled myself. I think I’d prepared to love this book only to get utterly dissatisfied by it. So many people have been raving about it and I’m really glad that it got such positive buzzes around the community. I need a book that can wow me. I need it desperately. It was what led me to believe that this was the one book that will finally help get back on the swing of things. Oh boy, my heart’s slightly bruised and beaten from hoping. It is apparently, not.
For the most parts, I attached Vicious too closely to this novel, hoping the same result. That’s partially my fault. I loved Vicious; I’m one of those who love reading stories with moral obscurity as its theme (Vicious, Tokyo Ghoul, Death Note). Those gray areas are interesting to explore. But Kell to me is more indifferent (although I think he was intended to be this enigmatic character but I just didn’t get that). He has a past that purposely will stir your interest. But he was most of the time an unsteady character for me. Different? Perhaps. But there were certain aspects of his character that he himself wasn’t sure of.
It is without a doubt holds very interesting concept: alternative universe of different kinds of London, space/time travelers, and magic! It is exciting if you think about it. And then Kell possess almost extinct ability to travel in those Londons. One of the last ones! And if that’s not enough he has magic, like he can manipulate elements (plus something else, something only his kind was able to). He’s freaking special! But even with those features I find myself forcing my way ‘til the end (as I had promised myself that I will try reading and in all fairness it wasn’t boring; I was just bit disconnected). Also quite baffled, I found myself not caring that much.
But I know why they loved it; Ms. Schwab writing is succulent. It’s one of the things I really adored in this book. The description was beautiful and vivid. I hope I did like the rest but unfortunately it’s a no to me. I’m not too sure whether it’s gratifying to pick up the sequel but like I said I didn’t care all that much.
Preview Quote: “Magic wasn’t something he lusted for; it was something he simply had. But now his veins felt starved of it, and starving for it. ”