I dug excitedly into V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Side of Magic, I’d heard good things about it, and I like the idea of connected worlds, all sharing a city called London, one filled with magic, one destroyed by it, one fading, and one without any idea of magic (the closest to our own), and those with the ability to cross between them.
The world spanning tale introduces us to Kell and Lila. Kell is an Antari, a magician who can use all magic, including blood magic. He’s been taken in by the rulers of Red London, and has become a bit of a brother to Prince Rhy, but that doesn’t mean the King and Queen don’t use them for their own purposes, mainly as a messenger between worlds to the rulers of other Londons.
But someone is aware of Kell’s travels and is putting trouble in his way, in the form of a token that is from the closed off and corrupted Black London, and it could bring about the destruction of all he loves, spreading like a dark plague as the devious rulers of White London seek more power.
Lila, a thief with dreams of having a ship of her own to seek adventure, finds herself tangled up in the struggle of good and evil with a corrupting power threatening both sides.
The story races along at a breakneck pace, even as it gives us some worldbuilding, and engaging characters. Schwab juggles a couple of story threads at a time, keeping the narrative of each moving in synch with the heartbeat of the story, and it all culminates in an epic climax while also hinting that there is more to come.
You know at some point Kell and Lila are going to have to travel to Black London.
I loved how wrapped up I got in this one, despite the difficult beginning the book and I had. I had been waiting for this one to be available from the library,and as I finally got it, and was digging into it, I got my second dose, and couldn’t concentrate on anything, let alone losing myself in this creation, which frustrated me. But as soon as I was through it, I knocked it out in quick order, and with great enjoyment.
A great summer read, filled with adventure, magic, and connected worlds, with a pair of truly engaging rogues in Kell and Lila. There’s a real sense of menace, and exploration to the narrative these two find themselves in, and the supporting characters around them feel as real and as fleshed out as they do, even as Schwab explains the rules of her universe.
Now to get my hands on the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows (and the third book in the trilogy, A Conjuring of Light)!