Kell is one of the last travellers, magicians with the ability to travel between parallel worlds connected by the city of London. There’s Grey London, a city without magic, Kell’s Red London where magic is respected and White London where magic fights against those who wish to control it. Once there was a place known as Black London but no one talks about what happened there. Kell finds trouble as he travels between the worlds, meeting thief Lila along the way and together they have to try and save all the connected worlds.
A Darker Shade of Magic is a very quick read thanks to the action and the writing style. Even the chapters and parts that the book is broken into are pretty short and allow you to read the story very quickly.
The characters in A Darker Shade of Magic are pretty cool. Kell has a lot of power and responsibility (and a really cool coat) but that doesn’t stop him from doing stupid and reckless things sometimes. Lila is the kind of character we’ve all wanted to be at some time. She’s a thief and looks after number one but she does it by being smart and by always being willing to learn. She is kind of that trope of “girl dresses up as a guy in order to progress in life” but I couldn’t bring myself to care that much. Kell and Lila make an odd team, they are complete polar-opposites in many ways but they still manage to work together.
The magical elements of A Darker Shade of Magic are great. It’s interesting to see the language used to make magic happen, or in some cases it’s all about the persons will and intent than saying any magic words. The way Kell travels between the London’s is interesting and how the different societies see and deal with magic is a great way to show how different the worlds are.
There’s a lot of mystery in A Darker Shade of Magic as both you as the reader and Kell try and figure out what he’s got himself into and who he can really trust. His interactions with Holland, another powerful traveller, were great because you could never really pinpoint what was exactly going on with Holland and if he was a good guy or a bad guy.
A Darker Shade of Magic is action-packed, full of magic and mystery and some interesting characters. It’s well worth checking out, especially as the sequel A Gathering of Shadows is released this month and I do think it’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible. 4/5.