“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”
-Lila to Kell
A Darker Shade of Magic
Kell is able to travel between three different versions of London. Red London is healthy, strong and has magic. Grey London is without magic. White London is starving for magic and a generally very nasty place ruled by a horrible brother sister combo. There used to be a Black London in this world but it went bad, the doors were closed and it disappeared off the face of the Earth. Or several Earths? Or whatever planet? I’m not sure how to make that work when you’re talking about many dimensions.
Anyway, Kell becomes an unwitting dupe bringing a magic artifact between the worlds which starts making all kinds of trouble. He’s hunted by people who want the magic and eventually meets Delilah (Lila) a young want to be pirate with a thirst for adventure and pickpocketing.
Overall I wound up enjoying the book. I absolutely loved Lila. She was smart, adventurous, no real sidekick and I liked the relationship that developed between her and Kell was more as partners in crime and really good friends. I also appreciated the relationship between him and his brother crown Prince Rhys as being a good one with some deep emotional bounds that affect the story in a good way. It’s always nice to see a happy meaningful family relationship in books like these where usually the family is gone or an enemy.
My biggest problems with the book. It took a really, really long time for me to get involved with the story. The world building is pretty decent although there are some threads that could be tighter. I was halfway through before it started to move. I think Kell could have really meet Lila sooner than he did and that might have helped.
Some of the other problems (like the factions hunting Kell) may be set-up for and cleared up in the next book but it was a little confusing and sometimes unclear for me. Also and this is just me the way Kell was described made me imagine him played by Ed Sheeran for the whole book. Not a bad thing but still weird.
Unlike a couple of first books in a series I’ve read recently I actually do want to keep reading. Although nothing made me want to race out and pick up the next book right away I still feel like I was intrigued enough to get around to it eventually.
Trigger Warnings: This is definitely a darker story attempted rape, a couple of gruesome deaths and mind control. I’m really freaked out by mind control plots so I’m putting that in there.
Recommend: Yes. I had some issues with the book but I’d recommend it for the excellent Lila character alone. It has a lot of potential and hopefully that will be fulfilled in the next installment.