A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic Book 1) by V.E. Schwab
I became a huge fan of V.E. Schwab after reading Vicious and it's sequel, Vengeful so I decided to give her earlier series a try as well and she did not disappoint. Schwab has a wonderful way of creating complex characters and compelling fantasy worlds that are so real you feel like you could step through the pages and walk right alongside them.
These characters, similar to Schwab's characters in the Villians series, are ones you find yourself continuously rooting for even when they are doing unsavory things such as stealing or smuggling. They are strong and badass but also complex enough that you can truly relate to their plights and emotions. The banter between Kell and Lila is so wonderfully written, you can't get enough. Throw in evil twin rulers, blood slaves and a promiscuous prince and the story unfolds in so many interesting ways.
Very quickly, this book becomes a fast-paced adventure as Kell and Lila must travel through parallel Londons (yes, there is more than 1 London in this book) to keep a mysterious relic from falling into the wrong hands and twisting the remaining magic into something dark. There are quite a few mishaps along the way and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.
It is a darker fantasy novel but almost reads like a fairytale which is why I found it such a compelling read. It contradicts itself just enough to pull you in and capture you in the intriguing plot and characters that you never went to let go. Luckily, there are more installments to this series that I'll be able to read very soon!
Synopsis: Kell is 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. Kell officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the parallel Londons.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.