Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
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.
A Darker Shade of Magic blew me away. This book is so dark yet so vivid, the writing absolutely blew me away. Kell is our main character, one of two magicians who can travel between the worlds held together by one town – London. His home is in Red London, where he was raised alongside the prince of that land. Kell is a messenger, traveling between the worlds to the varying monarchs to deliver messages.
The Gray London is where he finds Delilah Bard – aka Lila. She’s really what brings me to love this book if I’m being honest. Lila is a thief and loves to wear disguises. When first introduced to her, she is dressed as a young man and passing for it. She’s a thief with a bit of a heart and not one to take free hand outs. What leads her to meeting Kell is when she chases after some boys who were picking on a smaller one. Kell saves her and she robs him of a small black rock in his pocket.
This small black rock is the cause of every bit of trouble in this book. It’s pure magic and both Lila and Kell know it. Kell is more drawn to it because of his Antari nature, being able to use magic. Lila seems more immune to the pull of its power and knows that it is something that should not be handled frequently.
Now for the bad guys… Kell is not the only Antari left. There is another named Holland, who works unwillingly for the evil twins that rule White London, who are so freaking creepy it still makes my skin crawl thinking about them. Basically, they feel this existence of the black rock and Kell knows it needs to be destroyed before it falls into the wrong hands. But he will have to travel to Black London to do so, a place that has not been heard from since the worlds closed off to one another. All the while, he will have to keep the stone safe from falling into the hands of Holland or those he works for.
I really just fell in love with this world. I always love London as a setting, there’s so much to explore and the characters really brought the world to life as well. I loved the very different settings that were still somewhat the same. There was a lot of danger and witty banter that really pulled me in as well and kept me reading into the wee hours of the night. Such a great book.
For lovers of dark fantasy, great characters and alternate London settings.. read this book!