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Seven Reasons to Read ADSOM by V. E. Schwab

31st May, 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds. He is brought up as an adopted brother to Prince Rhy of Red London, but treated more as a messenger between different Londons by the King. He has a dangerous hobby – smuggling for those willing to pay for a glimpse of the other Londons, and this dangerous diversion sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell crosses path with Delilah (Lila) Bard, a clever thief who dreams big. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him. Meanwhile, Grey London is having royal problems of its own and the rulers of White London are growing greedy to establish their power. And then there is Holland, the other Antari, of White London, who doesn’t seem to have a mind of his own.

ADSOM is the first in the series Shades of Magic.

Why  read it?


Who can resist a book that has  four Londons? The reason I picked up this book is to visit the four versions of one of my top places on the wishlist. There is Red London (Kell’s world) where magic is revered, White London (ruled by a pair of detestable villains) , Grey London (Lila’s world) dull, unmagical and ruled by a half mad King George and the forbidden Black London, the city that was destroyed by magic itself long ago.


Read it, just to read about Kell’s coat. It is a magical one with more than four sides (and even some unknown hidden sides) . Want a wardrobe change? Just flip the coat!


Only an Antari or Traveller can travel between the worlds. And there is a special procedure to follow.


Who doesn’t love a good heist? And when the thief in question is a lady who has no fear and is on the look out for adventure, BRING IT ON!


It was such a relief that Kell and Lila don’t have any romance scenes. They hold hands and RUN – from danger to not get killed.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab


There is mad adventure in this one. An Antari who can travel between worlds with a hobby of smuggling artefacts between worlds, a thief who is eager to take an risk to see another London and the other Antari who seems to be under a spell.


The world building is WOW. The river that flows through all four Londons has different features. Also, I loved how the Londons were described by their scents.

“Kell never noticed the faint aromatic scent of Red London clinging to his clothes, but whenever he traveled someone invariably told him he smelled like freshly cut flowers. Some said tulips. Other stargazers. Chrysanthemums. Peonies. To the king of England, it was always roses. Kell was glad to know it was a pleasant scent, even if he couldn’t smell it. He could smell Grey London (smoke) and White London (blood), but to him, Red London simply smelled like home.”

What I did not like?

Well, the ideas were not completely original. It is a mixture of the age old elements of fantasy with portals, different worlds and one good guy to save the world. There were times when it felt a lot like reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. However, Schwab’s convincing style of writing makes it a breeze to read. When I finished the book, I was eager to start the next one in the series.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Final Verdict:

Excellent book for those who love fantasy reads or are looking forward to read a good story. There is blood, there is magic and a gripping adventure in this one.

Many thanks to Tangalene for this gift.

Title : A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
Author : V. E. Schwab
Publisher : Tor Books
Published : 2015
Language : English
Pages : 400
Rating : 4/5

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A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

About the Author

Victoria (V. E.) Schwab is an American fantasy author best known for her 2013 novel Vicious. She describes herself as the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing with a love for wandering about. She is currently working on the third of the Shades of Magic novels.

This Post Has 44 Comments
  1. It’s always a nice change of pace to see a book focus on friendship vs romance, which I didn’t know about the book so thanks for that! This is one of those been on the TBR forever reads, but I’m hoping to get to it soon. And I’m very interested in this coat that you’ve mentioned…

    1. Haha. The coat comes into picture in the first few pages and I was like Wow! There are four Londons and a magical coat? I so need to finish this. And you are right. A friendship is a nice change though I believe as the series progresses they fall in love.

  2. I’m loving the different review format! It’s important to shake it up every once in a while.
    I definitely do want to read this book sometime this year. It sounds so unique, dazzling, magical!
    I don’t mind if some of the ideas aren’t entirely original. Most books are not truly original. The delivery is what matters.

    1. Thanks! I thought I might add something a bit different now and then in some posts so that all don’t look the same. It is a very enjoyable read, no complaints at all. Hope you get time to pick it up soon.

    1. True that. That would be so cool. Not to talk about being super stylish and super awesome. I am sure if I had one like that I would keep changing my attire after every three hours.

  3. Great review.

    I tend to like stories that involve alternate realities.

    Four different versions of London does sound like it could get a little confusing and overwheling however.

    Based on your commentary however, it seems like this one works on several levels and avoids the pitfalls.

    1. It was really fun to read it. And not confusing in the bit. I know what you mean. Some writers mix up so many things and the reader is left flabbergasted. If you like fantasy reads this is a fun one.

  4. This one has been sitting on my shelf, unread, for literally a year now. I think it’s about time I picked it up — it sounds super interesting!

    P.S., your blog is SO pretty!

    Shaunna @ Books Over Bros

    1. Aww. Thank you so much. That makes me feel very happy. You say you have the book on the shelf? Don’t think again. Grab it and read it. It is a great adventure. I am waiting for the third book in the series.

  5. I know you mentioned you were eager to start book two. Have you? I loved A Gathering of Shadows a lot more than ADSoM. Lila is so badass and I love her character. Agreed the parallel Londons and Kell’s coat should make everyone read this book. ^.^

    1. I did! I waited a while before picking it. But AGOS was so so so good. Actually I liked it better than this one. And I felt I should reduce the rating of this one because AGOS is so much better. I think I like Lila! A girl and a thief. There is so much more Lila in Book 2. I should put a review soon. And I hope there is more Lila in the third book too.

  6. I definitely enjoyed reading ADSOM, since there were a lot of things about the book that was very intriguing – the Londons, the magic, and YES, Kell’s coat! I loved Kell and Rhy’s friendship as well (that scene near the end! T_T) Though the book had a good plot, I was a bit bored every now and then because of how slow the pacing was in the book. Great review!

  7. Ooh Kell’s Coast interreges me! I have had this book on my radar for a while I have never read any of V.E Schwab’s books, and with the release of This Savage Song the online book communities love is once again shining bright for her, so I am going to have to pick up one of her books soon.

    1. I hope you will! Her books are the kind you pick up when you dont want to worry yourself about plot and heavy topics but just breeze along on the adventure. I can see the Schwab fever catching onto the blogging community.

  8. I really want to read this book and have it pushed high up on my TBR. The best thing about this book for me has to be the Londons. I am so interested in how that works and getting to know them in detail. I really like the sound of thieves and portals and ARGH the whole book just sounds wonderful. I am anticipating it so much, hopefully it won’t let me down!

  9. Great review! I have this one on the shelf, I bought it a couple of months ago. I don’t know if I’ll get to it this summer but will make space for it this fall!

    1. Thank you. I think this would be good for the summer because it is perfect to relax with – no big words, no complications enough to grieve you heart; just a good story and some adventure.

  10. Great review! I have both of these on my shelves, and I think I have been waiting for a bit closer to book 3 release to actually start this series. I love Schwab’s writing, so I am excited to get into this series!
    -Monica @ Tomes Project

  11. Friendship over love is so rare to find in novels today. Everything always includes some kind of romance, especially when dealing with partnerships. That plus a fun adventure with a lady thief – I’m in!

    1. It is an excellent read. Though later on in the series there are hints on romance, (which is totally acceptable and which did not annoy me in the least) this first book is more of friendship and hence a super read.

  12. Great review! The first book I read by V. E. Schwab, The Archived, wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m going to give her another shot by reading AGOS. Just like you, I’m intrigued by the idea of multiple Londons:)

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