A Darker Shade Of Magic
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Titan!
Kell lives in a world where there's....well...more than one world, kinda stacked on top of each other like paper. Kell happens to be one of two people left, called Travelers, who can travel between the worlds. Which is pretty awesome, in itself. But Kell also has some pretty cool magic he can use because of what he is...Antari.
Kell travels between the different Londons delivering messages and such to the royals of each London, he's an ambassador of sorts, not to mention an adopted Prince of Red London. Red London is Kells home, it's the London that has magic, and is regularly used, there's a balance and a control and everything's pretty much okay in the magic field, it's a flourishing empire. Grey London is pretty much us, dirty, a yawn fest and totally lacking in magic. Not to mention we've got crazy King George running the show. (Yes this is circa......old times, I briefly tried to remember my history and failed, sorry). White London is nice and dodgy, it's pretty much ruled by whoever recently murdered their way tot he throne, the people fight to control magic, while the magic rather rudely drains them back, it's a bit of a struggle to live there. Black London....Black London is the London only mentioned as a story...a legend....albeit a very true Legend. It's the reason the worlds are now sealed to each other, bar the access Kell has. Black London is what happens when magic goes wrong.
Kell is quite the smuggler, he gets magical items for collectors back in Grey London in exchange for odd trinkets here or there, it's kind of not allowed but he's gotten away with it....so far. But Kell makes the mistake of being taken in by a sob story, and agrees to smuggle something across from White London, but it turns out he's been set up and has accidentally committed treason.
Kell has to flee in to Grey London, where he bumps, literally, in to Delilah Bard, a thief and a wannabe pirate. She robs him of said treasonous item, he gets it back, and from that moment on the two are sort of stuck with each other, and then there's the whole saving each other thing.
Lila is determined to go on an adventure and this is the very opportunity she has been looking for. Together, Kell and Lila must run across Red and White London to return a dangerous and dark artefact to where it came from. But they're being chased by the only other person who's the same as Kell, unfortunately he works for the wrong team, not to mention all the creepy people with black eyes who are sort of out to get him as well. But there's a bigger plan going on, more treacherous than either could have imagined, and really, really bad news. Can Kell and Lila save the Londons and stay alive?
"I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still"
I TRIED not to be too spoilery with my synopsis, I tried really hard, but I got a bit carried away as I do. I can tell you now that this is going to be a rambling and raving review, with me going full fangirl, and I kinda have no idea how I'm going to convey how awesome this book is to all of you, hence the inevitable rambling, but holy smokes this book was awesome. Way awesome.
The plot takes a while to come in, but that's okay because the beginning of the book is spent building the world, introducing the characters and sucking you in to the story, so that by the time the plot (or the Bug Uh-Oh as I like to call it) kicks in, you're totally engrossed in the world, and invested in the characters and the mad cap dash across worlds. Quite frankly I loved that time was spent creating the world before the plot kicked in because it's such a rich world and so incredible created and imaginative.
I loved the world. From the first page, I was sucked in, totally absorbed in the book, and as I was reading I felt like I was really there. It's one hell of a rich world, and I can't even begin to get in to how awesomely the author weaves it in the beginning, while still keeping the writing compelling so you're glued to the page, until the plot kicks off and even more action abounds. The world is one you can get lost in entirely and lose track of time, and I did with relish. I truly didn't want to leave, it was unlike anything I had read before, and I wanted to stay in such a magical and rich world. I had to tear myself away kicking and screaming, and even then I was thinking about it and getting back to it! I"m currently now desperate to go back and will most likely end up re-reading straight away after I've finished this review! Thank God the author is blessing us with another book, however the wait is going to be long and boring!
Like I said, the world is rich, but it's also incredibly different and original, in the different London's, how each one is different, the magical elements and so on. I don't want to say too much and give it away, but there where so many elements that made the book stand out. I loved how in Red London English was a royal language! To give you an idea of how thorough the world building was, each London had it's own politics, ruler and language and different stances on magic and so on. Each world is made up differently and it was amazing to go from one to the other, and the difference was such that you could tell you where in a different London to the previous one even if you hadn't been told. It's truly an imaginative book.
"There's Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London and Dead London"
The book is fast paced, and there's always something going on, it's action packed even in the beginning when everything is being set up and you meet the characters. The plot was very complex, there was the different Londons and what's going on in each, then there was Lila and her story, then Kell and his, then the two coming together and trying to return the thing where it came from (put that thing back where it came from or so help me, started whirling through my head at that point!) and the obstacles to get there and then the underlying plot, what's really going on and so on. All of these threads are woven together, along with the world building and characters and such, to create a plot and a book that's complex, intriguing, and that totally hits you at every twist and turn, you had no idea what was going to happen next, or what was coming next, and you pretty much had to sit tight and go along for the ride! I gave up trying to guess what was coming next because I was always wrong.
I loved the characters, both main and secondary. Each character, no matter the status, was written so well, so full of depth, Holland had such an intriguing background, and I was sad not to know more of it, for instance. Each character is brought to life, from Rhy's guards, to Rhy himself, and it's a colourful cast of characters, full of different personalities and each more intriguing and captivating than the last.
I loved both Lila and Kell and I can't for the life of me pick a favourite between the two. Both of them are strong, both have that little criminal streak...okay maybe not little in Lila's case! They're both badass in their own ways, and I kinda wannabe Lila, she's so awesome and fearless or rather gets scared but then does the thing anyway. I loved her whole other thief persona, and her love of weapons, and her dream to be a pirate, and I loved watching her friendship with Kell grow, at times they seemed pretty similar to me, in some respects personality wise, with Lila being probably more extreme than Kell! I'm excited to see more of Lila, I think I know what she is! If I'm right, it's going to be such a cool twist and I can't wait to see where it goes!
Kell I loved from the first page, he has such a fascination with things from our world, and he kinda reminded me of the little mermaid in that respect! I still feel like there's more to be learned about Kell and how he grew up and his parents and so on. He may have been adopted by the King and Queen but I'm interested in what it was like for him to grow up with them. There's little nuggets of background on each of the characters, casually dropped in to the narrative, but you still want to know more about them!
Most importantly both Lila and Kell did make me chuckle, especially when they where together and sniping at each other. Did I already mention Kell had cool magic? Cos he totally has cool magic, as well as the whole travelling thing! I pretty much connected with Kell and Lila instantly as soon as I met each one, and you get so emotionally invested in both of them. I'd love to see more of Rhy and get to know him as a character better! He's very intriguing, the Prince isn't all that good at magic, and judging from events, it's clearly something that eats at him, and his relationship with Kell is also interesting. More Rhy please! Although he wants to back away from Lila!
I'm pretty much now lost for words at this point, and doing a terrible job at getting across how much I loved this book, and probably not really making much sense and just repeating myself! So apologies, but I knew this was going to be tough to write, I always struggle to get it across when I love a book and just flail and type too much!
I think the thing I loved most about the book was how rich the history and the politics of the worlds was. I've already mentioned it but it was totally fascinating, each world has a different geography, a different language, different customs and politics and history and it's all gotten across so smoothly without bogging down the narrative, and yet still leaves you wanting more. I'd love to know more about Black London, I really would, but I also want to see more of Red London, the worlds are so clearly very expansive and there's lots to be explored. I loved it. It was so....I don't even know. Imaginative? Rich? Enchanting?
"The bodies in my floor all trusted someone. Now I walk on them to tea"
A Darker Shade of Magic is one of the best Fantasy's that I have read, and I can't get enough of it, I have a feeling it's going to be a favourite series of mine, and I'm now a total fangirl of the author. I also have a feeling that this is going to be one popular book, I mean it's already being reprinted! And it's going to be a popular series, or trilogy, or whichever, I'm not to fussed, I just need more haha! It could even become a new modern classic, right up there with Game of Thrones, and the writing is so cinematic, it could easily be adapted for....oh....I don't know....TV? Movies? Something like that.
A Darker Shade of Magic is an incredible start and set up for a series, with a rounded out storyline, giving you action at every turn, but still leaving room for more with how the ending mostly wraps everything up, leaving a few threads dangling tantalisingly. The book is pretty much perfect from beginning to end.
ADSOM will suck you in from the first page, and you will be lost in a world that is rich, original, absorbing, enchanting, spellbinding, imaginative, and I could go on and on. The world is incredible, and the world building is thorough without sacrificing the pace or the action, there's a perfect balance. The writing is compelling, and the characters are ones you can't help but love and be intrigued by. There's mystery, treachery, betrayal, action, adventure, and magic. So much cool magic. But also dangerous "I will eat you" magic. Not to mention all the little and big things scattered throughout the book that make it so original and unique and...yeah...rambling and repeating.
I loved it, you will love it, it's the perfect start to a series, and has set up an incredible world and characters, and left it open for plenty more adventure! Get on it if you haven't already!