From Goodreads: Kell is one of the last Travelers-- rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London-- but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they'll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive -- trickier than they hoped.
Dear A Darker Shade of Magic,
Or ADSOM, as I shall call you throughout the rest of this letter, because let's face it, while your title is glamorous and perfect in all the right ways, it's just way too long for me to keep typing over and over (and I'm just lazy so there). Any who, I'll be real honest right up front....I wasn't sure if you'd be the book for me. Yes, while the hype was quite rampant about you for the past few months, I just wasn't sure at all what to think. I try to stay away from the hype monster, because most of the time, that monster always lets me down. Luckily, that was far from the case with you. You were simply fantastic, magical, un-put-downable.....do I need to keep going?
You follow the story of Kell, who is a type of rare magician who can travel to parallel universes. The parallels are as follows.... Grey London, which is as it's name suggests...grey, boring, unmagical, etc. Then, there is Red London, where magic is everywhere and rampant. White London is the scariest of them all because of the murderous rulers who constantly change and become more vicious than the one before them. People try to control magic, and in return the magic tries to control the people, draining White London of everything. There once was a Black London, but it is unspeakable these days. Kell is from Red London, who is an adopted Prince that carries correspondences between the royals of each London, but he also smuggles artifacts from other London's for those willing to pay the right price to have a peek at something that they will never see. Unfortunately, Kell's little side job gets him accidentally accused of treason, forcing him to flee to Grey London where he runs into a delightfully sarcastic thief named Delilah Bard, who not only robs him, but saves him as well. Then forces him to take here to another world, much to Kell's dismay, where they face certain enemies, dangerous magic, and treachery at every corner.
I couldn't stand not knowing what all they hype about you was, especially when you were going into 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th printings within a week or two of your official pub date. That's a pretty big deal. That's a ton of people ordering you, reading you, and praising you. So I finally ponied up the twenty bucks to buy you, and it was one of the best twenties I've ever spent. I'll admit it took me a bit to understand every little detail, because since there are so many London's, things can get confusing pretty quick. I'd definitely advise anyone who dives into you to read slow, no matter how much they can't wait to get sucked into you, because paying attention in the beginning will make reading you that much better. I know there's things I missed about you, because I rushed through the first part, but that just means I get the pleasure of re-reading you soon! YAY!
Everyone who knows me, knows that I have a pretty tough time reading from a guy's POV. I still haven't pinpointed the exact reason why, but it's just one of those weird little quirks about me. Although, I instantly connected with Kell. I mean, it was kind of hard not to connect to him. His character was so dense and interesting, and how can I forget his incredible taste in fashion?! He has a coat that.....well, I'll just save that for the reader to find out! But my favorite character inside you, ADSOM, was one-hundred percent, hands down, Lila Bard. Gosh, I loved her so so so so much! She is such a badass! I want to be Lila Bard when I grow up! Honestly, she's a thief, who pines to be a PIRATE! I never knew I'd love reading about a girl wanting to be a pirate so much! Plus, every line that comes out of her mouth is instantly quotable, and she's tougher than nails. It doesn't matter what she's going through, she's going to keep on keepin' on. I'd gush on Rhys too, but this letter is getting way long, but just know I LOVE HIM TOO! As far as the enemies in this book, wowza. They were insane, crazy, blood-thirsty, villains, and your author, V.E. Schwab, knows how to write them expertly.
I have no idea how to begin to explain your world-building, other than to say that it is impressive, genius, glamorous, and simply amazing. It just confounds me how interwoven everything was, and it was just mind-boggling at how well-thought out it all was. I am flabberghasted at the amazing-ness of your world(s), ADSOM. *slow clap for V.E. Schwab, everyone*
With your expertly placed action packed scenes, delightfully intense characters, scary as all get out villains, beautifully intricate world-building, I couldn't ask for more out of a book. I've said it to you once, ADSOM, and I'll say it again. You are every bit worth the hype you're getting. I haven't felt this invested in such a magical book like yourself since Harry Potter, and I know that's a big statement to make, but it's completely true. I am fervently waiting for your next installment, but until then, I shall busy myself by rereading you, painting more totes of you, and praying ADSOM2 will be here sooner rather than later. Oh, and by mercilessly pushing you into everyone's carts at Barnes & Noble and every other book store in the immediate area, because that's the kind of thing fangirls do, right? FIVE OF THE BIGGEST HEARTS TO YOU, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC!!!