Books: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I'll admit the cover art drew me in. And then the blurb on the dust jacket flap. Then I read the first two chapters and thought that my 11-year-old son would love the book, too. So I started over and read it aloud to him.

It's not YA, exactly. I didn't find it shelved in YA at the bookstore I was at, and there are some things that maybe parents wouldn't want their kids to read (swears, hints at rape). But I found it fine for my son who is an advanced reader and with whom I can have very open conversations. (He did still cringe at the couple of kissy parts.)

I think it's interesting, too, that I liked Kell but found Lila to be a bit cliché while my son really liked Lila.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a synopsis first.

Kell is a rare kind of magician known as Antari. In fact, there are apparently only two: him and Holland. Meanwhile, there are four Londons: Grey, Red, White, and Black. Only Antari can travel between the Londons and their worlds.

Kell lives in Red London and is property of the royal family there, though they treat him almost as an adopted son. Holland, meanwhile, is owned by the sadistic rulers of White London. Grey London is the London we know; it's almost devoid of magic. At the point of time in this book, George III is king.

Lila is a thief in Grey London, trying to save to buy a ship because she wants to be a pirate. Alas, her adventure comes from another direction when she pickpockets Kell and ends up entangled in his troubles. They make a good team, and yet I couldn't help feeling she was somewhat one note. There are hints that she's more than meets the *ahem* eye, so maybe her character deepens in later books. (This is first in a trilogy.)

I also found the final battle to be a tad weak after all the build up to it.

Still, overall I really liked this book. I'm a tiny bit in love with Kell, and since I can't remember the last time a writer made me fall in love with a character, that's worth something to me. I look forward to the next book.

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