Book Review: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

So I'd been hearing lots about the Shades of Magic series and then in the summer of 2015 I saw V.E. Schwab tweet about Lila Bard being genderfluid and I knew I needed A Darker Shade of Magic ASAP.
As it turns out, ASAP ended up being early 2016, but I finally read it and WOW I am so glad I did.

But before I tell you guys why, here's the Goodreads summary:

"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."

Photo credit: Goodreads
So first of all, I don't read a whole lot of Adult Fantasy—but wowwww this was so so so good and I'm glad I stepped out of my usual reading because I loved it. The pacing at the beginning was a little slower than I tend to like (but expected, given that it's an Adult Fantasy), but I was still totally interested while reading because of the characters and world building. The layered Londons makes for such an interesting (and complicated!) setting, and I loved seeing the differences between them, from the access of magic, to the physical setting, to the people and the languages they spoke.

The magic system itself was really interesting to read, and I very quickly connected with Kell, Lila, and Rhy. Kell and Lila made for especially interesting point of view characters, and learning about their motivations and desires and what makes them tick was totally fascinating.

And! I was *so* drawn to Lila, like whoa. From her snark, to her gritty (and stubborn) determination, to her masculine style, Lila's character really resonated with me—probably more than I've experienced from an AFAB (assigned female at birth) character ever. I can't wait to read more about her (and Kell and Rhy, of course!) in A Gathering of Shadows, which I don't have on hand yet, but absolutely will because THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

I also want to make a note about the antagonists because I loved (and loved to hate two of them) so much. I won't name them, since at least one is kinda spoilery, but I will say my favorite characters extended being the main three. I kind of loved every character for a different reason, which is super rare for me with books.

A+ character development, A+ world building, A+ need more right now—this book was an easy five star rating and I honestly cannot recommend it more to fantasy lovers. If you haven't read it already, you need it like yesterday.

Diversity note: Major character Rhy is openly bisexual, and Lila is pansexual and genderfluid.

Twitter-sized bites:
.@Ava_Jae gives 5 stars to A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by @veschwab. Is this unforgettable Fantasy on your TBR? (Click to tweet
Want a Fantasy w/ nonbinary & bi characters? Check out A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab. (Click to tweet)

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