A Darker Shade of Magic (staff review)
Victoria Schwab, who made a name for herself in children's and young adult fiction, has now begun an exciting new adult fantasy series. A Darker Shade of Magic takes us into the dangerous and magical realm of parallel universes which feature four different versions of London during the 1800s. Kell Maresh is one of the only remaining magicians who can travel between the different Londons and uses that talent to play messenger for the royals at the vastly different courts. He also smuggles artifacts from the different worlds to people who will pay and finds himself enmeshed in intrigue and treachery when a street-smart pick pocket, Delilah Bard, robs him of a dangerous relic that he's passing between worlds. Kell lives at the court of magical Red London as the adopted brother to Regent Prince Rhy. Not much is known about Kell's origins. Lila Bard lives in Grey London, which unlike the red prosperous kingdom, is filled with poverty and pollution and ruled by mad King George III. Magic has long ceased to exist here. After they meet, both are drawn into danger and must fight for their lives against evil royals from White London, who are using corrupt magic to control the minds of their subjects. Schwab skillfully builds these worlds into a captivating read, which includes the hidden Black London-supposedly sealed forever because its powerful magic could destroy all. This well-crafted and imaginative fantasy is infused with malice, intrigue, and secrets. It will keep you at the edge of your seat. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace and interesting characters. I was especially drawn to Lila who is unusually independent, smart and resourceful. All the players in this story seem to have hidden agendas and secrets and I hope to find out more about the different magical Londons in the next installment of the Shades of Magic series. This review originally appeared in the Etc. Newsletter: http://www.kpl.org/newsletters

A Darker Shade of Magic (staff review)
Victoria Schwab, who made a name for herself in children's and young adult fiction, has now begun an exciting new adult fantasy series. A Darker Shade of Magic takes us into the dangerous and magical realm of parallel universes which feature four different versions of London during the 1800s. Kell Maresh is one of the only remaining magicians who can travel between the different Londons and uses that talent to play messenger for the royals at the vastly different courts. He also smuggles artifacts from the different worlds to people who will pay and finds himself enmeshed in intrigue and treachery when a street-smart pick pocket, Delilah Bard, robs him of a dangerous relic that he's passing between worlds. Kell lives at the court of magical Red London as the adopted brother to Regent Prince Rhy. Not much is known about Kell's origins. Lila Bard lives in Grey London, which unlike the red prosperous kingdom, is filled with poverty and pollution and ruled by mad King George III. Magic has long ceased to exist here. After they meet, both are drawn into danger and must fight for their lives against evil royals from White London, who are using corrupt magic to control the minds of their subjects. Schwab skillfully builds these worlds into a captivating read, which includes the hidden Black London-supposedly sealed forever because its powerful magic could destroy all. This well-crafted and imaginative fantasy is infused with malice, intrigue, and secrets. It will keep you at the edge of your seat. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast pace and interesting characters. I was especially drawn to Lila who is unusually independent, smart and resourceful. All the players in this story seem to have hidden agendas and secrets and I hope to find out more about the different magical Londons in the next installment of the Shades of Magic series. This review originally appeared in the Etc. Newsletter: http://www.kpl.org/newsletters

Magical Historical Fiction (Staff Review)
3.5 STARS - In this unique YA historical fantasy Schwab gives her readers strong characters, an interesting premise with some great twists all within fantastically unique settings. There's action, magic and even a want-to-be pirate. In this world there are four different London's existing in parallel universes each with their own degree of magic which has affected each city in significantly different ways. Only a select few, called Antari, can travel between the different worlds. Kel is an Antari and uses his ability to relay messages from royalty between the different realms as well as smuggle, what he deems as innocent, artifacts between the Londons. When one of his smuggling missions puts him in danger he is forced to rely on Lila, a thief from Grey London whose only goals are to survive and find adventure. Unfortunately, Kell and Lila have many enemies who are out to get them and Lila may get more adventure than she bargained for. This book started off quite strong. Schwab clearly describes her unique setting with the various Londons and I was really drawn to Kell and, even more so, Lila. She's feisty, doesn't put up with a lot of guff and plays by her own set of rules. Kell is quite powerful in his own right and struggles to find where he truly fits in. He makes mistakes and finds himself relying on Lila, a common street thief. There are some decent twists and I enjoyed that no one is who they seem - except maybe the villains who were evil-to-the-core nasties who didn't appear to have any redeeming qualities. I'd give the first half of the book a solid 4 stars but my rating faltered to three stars when my attention started to wain about two-thirds through. The ending seemed a bit rushed and felt like it fell into place a little too easily. I also wasn't fond that I was left with quite a few unanswered questions. This book is all about brilliant world building with unique characters and ruthless villains. And while the ending was a little lackluster after all of the build up I can't help but think that things will be explained better in the second installment of this series, A Gathering of Shadows (Feb 2015). Recommended for fans of historical fiction with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure., Laurie P, Waterloo Public Library

Worth reading
A really interesting concept of 4 different versions of London and compelling characters make this a satisfying read. There is a hint of a second book and I am looking forward to spending time in this world again.