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.
You know what VE Schwab is really good at? Starting a book real slow and quiet, getting you to know the characters, making you fall in love with them so that you deeply care about them, introduce you to the world, one that you’ll love but won’t ever be able to visit. And then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and characters are getting hurt, some even die and you just can’t with the feels anymore.
Schwab shows you real life. Everyone is vulnerable, no one is invincible and everyone can get hurt or even die. These characters get into really tough situations and they don’t come out easily but get hurt in the process and not only physically. No one is save in the hands of Schwab!
I really don’t mind that VE Schwab always starts her books rather slow. I actually like it. I prefer me some awesome characters over action packed plots anytime. And these characters! The wannabe pirate/thief (love her for that alone because pirates and thieves are awesome), searching for her next big adventure. The pretty charming prince, who always made me smile no matter what. The traveler (never alone but always lonely… poor boy, I love him so very much), always drawn to the dark, so very reckless. The cold, dark,arrogant man who longs to be saved but would never admit it (may he kill all the characters, I’ll still love him). And the villains who walk on the bones of their victims to tea, so deliciously evil.
AND THE SASS! I had so much fun with these characters. All so strong and fabulous on the outside but look closer and see all these little cracks, faults that will make you love them even more, will make them feel realistic and turns them into living breathing people and not just ideas on paper.
I don’t know about you but I LOVE London, so what could be better than MULTIPLE LONDONS WITH MAGIC!? You do not only get one world to discover but multiple and they all have their different facets. I can’t even say which one is my favorite because they all have something about them that I deeply love, might it be the people living there, the magic or its history.
As to the magic system, it’s a rather simple idea but Schwab adds all these layers and makes it something that is anything but ordinary. When she describes it with her words, I want to mark every single page. It becomes a brilliant new thing that I can’t get enough of. Just dig a little deeper and you’ll find yourself in a world that is absolutely fascinating and stunning. A world you want to live in yourself.
By the time I reached the end of this book, my feels were pretty much all over the place. VE Schwab really likes to torture her characters and by that also her readers. I’m glad that she ends this first adventure without some evil cliffhanger even though I still very much crave the next book. A Darker Shade of magic was equally fun and dark and even though I like Vicious more, it is definitely a new favorite.