Title: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publication Date: 2015
Source: Borrowed from Library
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 was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
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.
I came to A Darker Shade of Magic directly after reading Vicious (which I loved from the first page). This one took me a few chapters, but I was eventually sucked into the world(s) and engaged with both Kell and Lila. I enjoyed the set-up of the four versions of London and the magic surrounding them. Kell is a nicely rounded character who does grow and change during the course of the story, while Lila makes a great foil/counterpart for him. The world building was solid and the pacing good. Perhaps this story didn't grab me quite so completely as Vicious did, but it was still highly readable with a great premise, delightful characters, and plenty of action and adventure. I will definitely be reading the remaining two books in the trilogy to see what else befalls Kell and Lila. 4.5 stars.