Ronin Reads: “A Darker Shade of Magic”

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

‘Seen what?’

Her smile widened. ‘Everything.’”

-“A Darker Shade of Magic”, V.E. Schwab


“A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab takes place in a world where there are four coexisting Londons (Red, White, Black, and Gray), in which each have a different amount of magic.  When Kell, one of the two most powerful magicians in this world, comes into contact with a black stone that enhances his power and meets a bold thief, Delilah Bard, magic comes with a dangerous and unknown price. 

This book was gripping from the start. The magic system that Schwab created was easy to follow ,but was complex enough to seem real. I loved the differences between each London and seeing how in each of the differentiating circumstances, magic can help a kingdom either thrive or be its downfall. However, what really kept me hooked was the characters. I fell in love with both of the main characters, chaotic Kell and mischievous Delilah (“Lila”). They each had their faults, but their strengths, especially when they’re together, made such a wonderful story. 

The protagonist, Kell, is known as an Antari magician, which means he can travel through each parallel London and control all four of the elements: fire, earth, water, and air. With this ability and his status as the adopted son of the royal family, Kell must handle the correspondence between each London. The pressure on him to be powerful and “godly” definitely has an effect on him, but he has his brother, Rhy, and his partner, Lila, to help get him into some much-needed mischief for relief. 

Lila Bard, thief and knife enthusiast, is bold and unwavering in her ambitions. She is full of surprises, and you can never tell what she’s about to do or how far her determination to live in an adventure will take her. 

Lila’s faults lie in the fact that, while she is driven, she has closed herself from comfort, safety, and love. Because of this aspect, it’s nice to see her connect with Kell and find her footing as the depth of her character runs much deeper than being an adventuress. 

The narrator and point of view of the story alternated between both Kell and Lila which made the book much more interesting. You got to better understand each of the characters and connect with them both rather than one individual perspective.

With that being said, every book in this trilogy is beautifully written and each book gets better. This has easily become one of my favorite fantasy series. 

If you, much like me, love to read about dashing adventures, complex characters, high-stake plots, magic, and romance, this series is for you!