In Review: A Darker Shade of Magic // HOW IS THIS SO BEAUTIFUL

You’d think that I’ve read enough beautiful books that I wouldn’t be surprised by another.

Yeah no.

I read A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab a few weeks ago. And gosh, it was absolutely MAGICAL. Or maybe that’s because the book involved magic???

Ignore me while I cry please.

*note that this is my first review of ever and because I have like no experience writing reviews, my thoughts are probably all over the place and it’s disorganized. whoops.

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((view my shorter synopsis under this horribly long one))

{ goodreads }              { amazon }

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Kell is one of the last travelers―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King―George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered―and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London―a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. 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.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, 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.

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My glorified, somewhat shorter synopsis:

There are four Londons: Grey London (no magic), Red London (magic in just the right amount), White London (corrupted magic uh oh), and finally, Black London (the magic consumed the people whoops).

There is a guy named Kell, who is one of the only people who can travel between all the Londons (called Antari). He’s technically property of Red London’s king and queen (being property is fun), so he travels between the worlds to deliver messages and stuff. But he’s also a smuggler, yay.

But smuggling is dangerous (who would’ve guessed) and he accidentally smuggles a dark magicky object that almost makes him die. And then he meets Delilah Bard, also known as Lila, and then they go on an adventure to SAVE THE WORLD.*

ALSO, please note that this is ADULT FANTASY, but because I was an innocent, naïve, oblivious little bean, I was completely clueless of this fact until I looked for AGOS in my library catalogue and OH DEAR IT’S IN THE ADULT SECTION.

*Saving the world is something I do on a daily basis, just so you know. It’s fun.

Okay, the first thing I will say about ADSOM is that it was


It was so, extremely slow. Even the action-y parts were slow as well. That was my main problem with it: SLOW, SLOW, SLOOOOOOOOOW.

I thought it would speed up later on, but nope. It pretty much stayed at the same pace for the whole book. HOWEVER, I have been promised that the next books are much faster, so THERE IS HOPE.

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Oh, the CHARACTERS. They were just so AMAZING.

The characters & why I like them:

  • KELL

    • Well, Kell is one of the only people who can travel through the worlds. He was brooding and full of all these emotions that would be cliché in other characters but wasn’t in him??? It was also really fun to see him spiral into darkness. #yaydarkness. This little baby is MINE.
  • LILA

    • I loved Lila??? She was your ultimate sass queen full of lots of sarcasm, with a great appreciation of knives. See why I like her??? *SPOILERISH BIT* And also, I suspected that she was an Antari, and then I felt the suspicion become stronger when we find out she had a glass eye??? Someone tell me more???
  • RHY

    • Rhy is the crown prince of Red London, and unfortunately, we don’t see much of him in this book. But of what we DO see, he seems really fun and charming. I mean, all Kell could talk about was his charm??? Also the brother relationship between Rhy and Kell is THE BEST.
 love friends supernatural hug dean winchester GIF

    • For a moment I forgot the name of the Dane twins whoops.
    • Anyways, Astrid and Athos are the rulers of the dark White London (ha) and they go crazy and dark with their magic. Holland is the other Antari, except instead of being loved by the royal family (like Kell), he belongs to the Danes. You can basically call these the antagonists. Basically.
    • I felt really bad for Holland??? I mean, VE Schwab hints that he was RELIEVED to die, which is sad. And then I feel nothing towards the Danes. 🙂

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I had a tiiiiiiny problem with the plot though.

My problem was that it was your average “uh oh dark magic agh now we have to save the world okay did it” thing. I mean, VE Schwab made it slightly different with the Vitari and other stuff, but essentially, it’s your dark-magic-takes-over fantasy.

BUT I STILL LOVED THE PLOT. She executed it well, and that’s all that really matters. (Sort of.)


    • Honestly VE Schwab has an AMAZING writing voice and style. It’s so smooth and elegant and IT’S HOW I WANT MY THIRD PERSON WRITING TO BE. Can I please be her???

    • Four magical (or not magical) Londons??? That was what drew me in. Like AGH FOUR LONDONS WHY IS THIS SO COOL. And from what she revealed in ADSOM, the worldbuilding is really strong!

    • Erm, of course??? How could I not like the magic??? I mean, it was elemental magic at its core, but VE Schwab included other things like spells and… um… yeah. (This is why you write reviews right after you finish the book.)

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Overall, I think that while it was SO HORRIBLY SLOW, it was the characters that brought it home for me. The characters are THE most important part of the story, in my opinion, and these characters were just amazing. ❤ I could fangirl about many aspects of this story, even with the snail pace, which is why I give A Darker Shade of Magic a rating of…


a wonderful read that was slow, but had amazing characters

(Also, the fact that I BOUGHT THIS BOOK WITH MY OWN MONEY makes it even more precious.)

shall we chat

have you read adsom before? if so, did you like it? if not, have i inspired you to read it? isn’t formatting a review horribly difficult? have you read a book that was horribly slow? do you agree that characters are the most important part of books??? i demand your opinion, mangoes.

sign off 2.0

83 thoughts on “In Review: A Darker Shade of Magic // HOW IS THIS SO BEAUTIFUL

  1. Hello, my Mango Queen. Okay, so, one. Your book-y pictures were so great-just wow. Also, YOU HAD A LOTR GIF IN THERE OF ARWEN!! But that didn’t work out so well, because I already knew the context of the gif, so the effect wasn’t there, you know? But the context was when Frodo got stabbed by a Morgul blade, he was passing into the shadow, and so Arwen magically appeared, and then Aragorn (son of Arathorn) (and Arwen is the daughter of Elrond) ( Aragorn is Gondor’s heir) (Arwen is basically the princess of Rivendell) (or Imladris, if you prefer Elvish) (and Aragorn’s a Ranger, and Dunedain) (basically, he’s 87, Arwen’s like a couple thousand years old, and they’re a thing) (anyways) is all like ‘whoa what are you doing here’, and she’s all like ‘I’m going to save Frodo’ and hen she fights a bunch of orcs to get Frodo to Rivendell cause then they can heal him and the whole hope thing is about him not passing into the shadow yet and stuff. ANYWAYS!! I was jealous of the book when you first brought it to school, and it does seem like something that I would enjoy reading. Ugh, another one for the TBR…

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    1. THANK YOU FOR COMMENTING DEAR MANGO. And oh, I did??? Whoops. And hahahaha I totally read everything you said about the Hobbit there… And YES THIS BOOK IS SOMETHING WORTH BEING JEALOUS OVER. MINE MINE MIIIIIIIIIIIINE. ❤ And yes, mwahahaha, TBR…

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      1. …YOU’RE WELCOME MY MANGO QUEEN!! Shame on you… ONE DAY I WILL CORRUPT YOU!! And you should never apologize for putting Liv Tyler in anything. 🙂 Ugh the TBR… one day there will be an avalanche… and I will be crushed and die.

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  2. Okay so tbh the only things I liked about this post were the graphics, your writing, and your formatting. Dear May, you may be wondering what that leaves, what I didn’t like. And that is the book. You know how I tried to read it at your house and it was just no, no, no, no. But AMAZING POST (also are you jealous of all the amazing books I just checked out that I’m about to send you photos of 😉 and the fact that I’m to post a book review too 😉 )

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    1. Why that was basically all my post so thank you. And that’s cuz you only read like the first page — unless you speed-read through it all??? Again, it is SLOW, but I have been told that it gets much faster-paced in the other books. (And no because you haven’t sent them to me??? And tbh I checked out some great books too. And hahaha I have plans for a mini reviews post and a review in April cuz of CAMP.)

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  3. I absolutely loved VE Schwab’s Vicious but for some reason I haven’t picked up this series yet. But your review has definitely motivated me to give it a try! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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  4. Hello!!! Amazing post (By the ways) and WOW WHAT A PERFECT FIRST REVIEW!!! I might actually read this book now. 😀 I do agree, characters are just so very important, *dramatic sigh*. I’m pretty sure, that I probably, must have read a slow book, at one point in my life. None really come to the top of my head though.

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    1. Thank you very much, Violet! And yay! I would lend it to you but MINE MINE MINE MY PRECIOUS BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY CANNOT BE LET OUT OF MY SIGHT. XD
      Yes, charries are SO important! And haha, don’t worry, we all get those #goldfishmoments. XD

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  5. I started it and then the library wanted it back (come on, library, how dare you expect me to give these books back?) and then I haven’t gotten around to reading it again. But it was cool! I do need to get back to reading it at some point….heh heh…

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      1. *is tacklehugged* *hugs back* I WAS ON CHOIR TOUR AND THEN I JUST HAVEN’T POSTED AND YUP BUT I’M KINDA HERE. I’ll tell you what I think of it once I read it (if I remember to)! 😀

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  6. I just read this book recently and have since plowed through the other novels in the series. I really enjoyed them, but I didn’t love love them as many others have seemed to. I think for me it was the characters that really grabbed my attention, they are all so vivid and it was them I was addicted too! Will definitely be checking of Schwabs other books!

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  7. Hi, May! For your very first book review, this is so good! I haven’t read this and after your review, which was lovely by the way, I don’t know if I will. I don’t like slow books unless the characters are exceptionally amazing! I just can’t seem to get through them. Random question, have you read the Inheritance Cycle?

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    1. Haha, thank you so much! And yeah, slow books are a pain, but charries make them much better! I don’t think the charries were as amazing as they are in the other books, but I do know the pacing gets faster after this book, if you can make it past. XD
      No, I haven’t! I’ve heard of it, though.

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  8. This sounds like a cool book, but I’m not a big fan of dark magic-y stuff. *hides under blankets* So funny that it’s actually an adult novel! XP
    I totally agree that the characters are the most important part. Thanks for the awesome review! I enjoyed it immensely.

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  9. I CRY because I haven’t read this series yet and then I just found out all of the copies are gone. >.< I really want to read this series so bad.

    And SAME when I found out it was in the adult section. I literally ventured over there and got some eyebrow raises because hey, I couldn't reach the top shelf to see if it was the book. NOPE.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

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    1. Omg AAAGGGGHHH POOR CHILD. I bought ADSOM, but won’t buy the last books and have to wait for the library ones to be available. XDA
      XD Right??? Oh dear, I dread going to the adult section now. Why must the shelves be so high and my body be so short???


  10. Yayyyyy I’m super happy you liked this book so much! I think I can see how it would be a slower paced book. This book has just been so extremely popular lately, and I’ve heard about a lot of people currently reading it or putting it on their tbr, but I’ve seen minimal reviews (well that’s probably not true at all but the only other one I REMEMBER reading is Meghan’s @bookslayerreads. Anyways, your review was REALLY good, so thank you for your opinion 😄💕

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    1. So I apparently never liked or replied to this comment??? Ahem. Yes, I really liked it! I’m okay if a book is slow when it’s a contemporary, but I’m slightly peeved if it’s slow as a fantasy. XD Yeah it’s been pretty popular! Probably because ACOL came out recently. And thank you so much!!!

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  11. SO THIS BOOK IS MY ACTUAL FAVOURITE IN THE UNIVERSE AND I’M SO GLAD YOU LOVED IT!!🎉 I was surprised you thought it was slow though haha, I thought it was quite fast-paced. 😂😂 But yessss, the characters are precious and Holland is a precious damaged cinnamon roll. Rhy is the BEST and Kell just needs all the love. ❤ ❤ LILA IS SO BADASS CAN I BE LILA WHEN I GROW UP.

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  12. ARGH! I’m so happy that people are FINALLY JUMPING ON THIS TRAIN (notice that I said ON and not IN FRONT OF) I PROMISE YOU IT GETS FASTER. And also better. AND MORE COMPLEX WITH MUCHLY SUFFERINGS. (shh that’s English okay). This review strongly mirrored my own thoughts of the SLOW. SLOOOOOWWWW but still really gooddddd!!! KEEP READING THOU SHALT NOT REGRET!

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  13. YES YES YES THIS IS SO GREAT. I am so glad you loved this, it is actually my loveeeee esp. because KELL AND LILA AND RHY ARE SO PRECIOUS. 😍😍 And Holland, oh my gosh, so sad!! I felt so bad for him. Hahahaha Astrid and Athos BYE no one likes you. LILA is goalsssss. And may or may not be Antari, who knows? 😉 VE Schwab is actually a genius and her writing and world is so so creative I LOVE IT SO MUCH. ❤❤

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  14. I NEED ADSOM, but I’m always so late on books. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. But I HATE SLOW BOOKs, *Weeps* – should I still read it?
    Considering, it’s your first full review, W.O.W. My first review was a lumpy paragraph and the book title. YAP – your review IS AWESOME.
    Characters are FOR SURE important! Like, if I hate the characters, I might hate the book. But the plot also plays a big part aswelll as the writing style.

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    1. Haha, I’m ALWAYS late on books. Especially because I’m BROKE, and libraries are SO SLOW in getting new releases??? SLOW BOOKS ARE HORRIBLEEEEEE. But don’t worry, I have been told by MANY that the other books are MUCH faster-paced. And Cait also said that she thought ADSOM was really fast-paced so IDEK??? and HAHA, thank you! And yuuus, charries for life. I KNOW! If you don’t care about the charries, you don’t care about the book.

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      1. YES MAY it actually was fast-paced? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MANGOENESS. Adsom was aweeessoomeee. AND THE DANES WERE AWESOME (well only Athos) I liked HOLLAND soo much in AGOS but not Adsom


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  15. Oh, look, Kell! Oh … a he Kell … mmkay … I’m not angry … okay, maybe I’m a little angry … 😉

    have you read adsom before? if so, did you like it?: nope … and I don’t know ’cause I didn’t read it!

    if not, have i inspired you to read it?: maybe … *glares at huge TBR pile* I just hesitate to add another book ’cause it might topple …

    isn’t formatting a review horribly difficult?: YESSS!!! Oh, wow, yes. It’s so hard …

    have you read a book that was horribly slow?: so many. Most the time I put them down unless they’re classics. 😉

    do you agree that characters are the most important part of books???: of course! I basically ignore plots half the time … 😉

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    I am so glad you loved this book, because this is one of my favorite BOOKS EVER! I was BLOWN away with the action. I feel sad, and happy at the same time because the THIRD book came out, and I still didn’t read the second book. But, like awesome review!! YOU NEED TO READ 2ND BOOK ASAP, AND TELL ME IF IT WAS GOOD!!

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  17. HOLY CATS I MUST READ IT and yes, accidentally reading adult books- I did that with star wars books once and the librarians were like, uh…. XD

    Because I’m a picky bean, how clean was this book? If it is clean I shall promptly request it at mine library, oh mango!

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  18. THE BOOKS ARE SO GOOD OMFG I’M GLAD YOU LOVED THEM KELL IS MY PRECIOUS. (but he can be your precious if you want.) I read it because of multiple tumblr posts, and now I’m so glad I did BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME. SO GOOD. Have you read the whole series? A Conjuring of Light came out last month – I think it was quite an improvement from the others, but still really slow. I love the Kell and Alucard banter so much. And the ending of ACOL omfg – okay I’m sorry just letting out my feels.

    Liked by 1 person

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