Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Crossdressing thief meets magician from another world

There are four worlds, and each contains a city called London, magically linked and accessible to the Antari. Three hundred years ago people traveled between the worlds with relative ease, and magic flowed through the people and lands. Then a plague struck Black London, and in an attempt to keep it out the other worlds shut themselves off, closing all of their magical doors and destroying all Black London souvenirs just to be sure. Only Antari can travel through the remaining three worlds, and then only to take messages back and forth between the rulers of Red London, White London, and Grey London. Smuggling is forbidden, whether it be objects or people.

Kell is from Red London, where the magic is still strong and everyone has some ability to use it. He is Antari, adopted son to the crown rulers, and their messenger between the worlds. When a broken black stone comes into his possession he knows, from the power that thrums through the shard, that it is a relic from Black London. It’s a magic unlike anything he’s ever experienced: tempting, draining, and very, very powerful. The rulers of White London, evil, sadistic siblings, are after the relic, and Kell hops to Grey London to escape their servant, Holland, the only other Antari in existence. In Grey London Kell meets Lila Bard - when she pickpockets the stone from him. Kell must get the stone back before Holland finds it...and Lila.

Lila yearns for adventure. Dressed as a man she thieves her way through London, trying to save enough to buy a ship and sail away to a life of piracy. When she takes the black stone from the stranger’s pocket, she doesn’t realize she’s about to get far more adventure than she bargained for. 

A Darker Shade of Magic is a classic fantasy tale: the overall theme is good versus evil; there is a quest that must be undertaken; and the main characters gain depth and understanding over the course of the novel. These time honored plot devices are the backbone for an intriguing, complex, and well written story full. Schwab has built a world where magic is plausible and has created characters that jump off the page and into the reader’s heart. I loved this book, and hope to see more of Lila Bard and Kell in future novels. 

Schwab, V.E. A Darker Shade of Magic. New York: Tor Books, 2015. 4.5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received an eGalley of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in the review are mine alone. 

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