Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (4/5)

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Fiction, 2015

I went back and forth on this book. It’s entertaining and fun – Schwab has built an amazing world of alternate realities.

But – I felt let down.

The story felt muted, almost. It didn’t grab me. I felt no connection to Kell or Lila, although I felt more for Lila than I did anyone else. The whole novel felt short and brushed over – and that might be because I started reading this in the dust of the Throne of Glass series.

This book was good, though, don’t get me wrong. The world – OH – I’ve never read another book with such a world. There are three separate worlds and in each is a fixed point of London. Kell is one of two people who can pass between each world.

However amazing the world was, the world-building took a front seat in this novel, and the plot was in the backseat.

Kell came off as a bit mysterious, but a little too distant of one. I didn’t feel connected with him. He was too chill through the story, with his only care being for his brother (which, their relationship felt a bit strange – I kept waiting for a romantic angle to come out between then. They’re not actually brothers, but call each other so.) I was reading about Kell, not living an adventure with him. Impersonal. Lila, a thief from Grey London (non magic London) felt kind of the same way, but she was more exciting. Together, they had some great banter that really sped up the story.

There was a lot of narration in this novel. It felt… passive. It told me the story in such a way that felt more like I was being told about things, rather than getting to live them through the characters.

There was a lack of emotion layers, I suppose, that cost this novel that last point. A lack of depth. I’ve had this book for… several weeks now, and I’m just now finishing it. I had no desire to continue reading.


The ending grated me the wrong way. We spend a chunk of the book thinking we were going back to Black London, the mysterious forgotten world, and then we didn’t go to Black London – the ending felt so quick and easy. I wanted to go to Black London. You don’t spend a whole book leading up to this big event, and then not have that event. 

All that being said, I gave A Darker Shade of Magic a 4 out of 5 because while I felt it moved slow, not a lot happened, and the characters lacked a connection, it was still a good book and a fun read. I recommend for anyone into fantasy.

There’s two more books out in this series, and I might read them one day, but right now I’ve got too many other books in my queue to trudge through a story that only grabbed me a little.

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