In the spirit of starting all of the fantasy series that are out and hot right now, I decided to take a dip into the universe of the many Londons. I really appreciate V.E. Schwab’s ability to keep this book exciting while laying out all of the information, characters, and locations that we need to know about once this series really gets going. Sometimes first children of a book series can get too bogged down in details or burn out too early with too much action, but this book is a nice mix of the two.
A few things to keep in mind. First, there are 4 parallel universes, each with a different approach to magic. Pure magic, every day magic, controlled magic, and not really any magic. The main character Kell calls them Black, Red, White, and Grey Londons respectively. And London is the name of the city they all share, but that’s all they share. England as a country doesn’t exist in all of them, so London is our lynchpin.
Kell is a special kind of person that can move between the worlds, and he is one of only two of that kind of person left in all the universes. Something terrible happened in Black London and it has been locked away and inaccessible from the other Londons. So we travel with Kell to see what’s going on, and we see that there is some trouble brewing. All in all it’s a really slow burn but the fireworks at the end are amazing.
This is a very smart book. I was never bored, I never rolled my eyes. The rules of the universe(s) are clear and more are slowly coming into focus so you never have to take things for granted. The ending was grand and speaks of more adventure to come in a very subtle way. Come with me and discover A Darker Shade of Magic. You won’t be disappointed.