A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab follows Kell, one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Now, Black London threatens to return and destroy the world.
What I liked ✅ each London had distinct, well-developed characteristics ✅ plenty of intriguing concepts (the Londons, the magic, the Antari) ✅ loads of mystery and action ✅ every scene with Holland was stand-out — easily the best, most interesting character in the book ✅ V.E. Schwab's writing style is well-developed
What I didn't like ✖ slow to start, then, the plot's pacing alternates between powering forward and stalling ✖ unnecessary, once-off character perspectives muddled the drive of the plot ✖ the characters have great potential but fail to launch; I never felt connected or invested in the journey of any of the characters ✖ Kell is a weak, uninteresting protagonist lacking drive or passion — it's hard to "root" for him; likewise, Lila is a reckless thief, but without a well-articulated backstory, I found myself not caring about her character growth ✖ the magic system is without articulated rules, constraints or logic — whenever magic is used, or not used, it confuses the reader ✖ the books left me with an ambivalently positive feeling — I liked it, but I felt like I was watching everything take place rather than journeying with the characters (due to the characters being largely uninspiring)
Rating 2.5/5 🌟 Genre: fantasy Verdict: A solid YA series which fails to live up to potential