This is book number 1 in the Shades of Magic series.
Schwab imagines four Londons, that differ by their distance from magic’s dark heart. Farthest away is Grey London, of our 18th-century. Next is Red London, where magic proliferates, followed by White London, where magic is power, and the strong prey upon the weak. Finally there is Black London, an unimaginable horror the other worlds have shut out for their own safety.
The story follows Kell, a magician who can travel between Londons. When he is tricked into smuggling a stone originally from Black London via White London into Red London, a terrifying cascade of events follows, as black magic begins to pour across worlds. Kell’s only help is Lila, a wonderfully brave and resourceful thief. Together, they must face down the dark magic that threatens to destroy everything.
Featuring appealing main characters, splendidly wicked villains, and a horrifying conception of magic, Schwab’s fantasy will shock you and thrill you. Highly recommended!— From David's Diamonds
V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic Trilogy is a must-read for lovers of the magical and mysterious! Get pulled into the world of Kell - a world of magic, woven with wonder and horror and beauty and intrigue - and then get pulled into another, and another! Kell lives in London, but it isn't the London we're familiar with. It's an alternate world, one of four, and Kell is one of the few who are able to hop between them all. When he's drawn into a plot that might destroy not only his world, but all the others, he'll have to use all of his magic, as well as the help of a dagger-wielding pickpocket named Lila Bard, to survive and save all he loves. Reading this trilogy was like jumping through one of Kell's portals - I couldn't help but get lost in the rich worldbuilding and incredible cast of characters.— From Kylie's Staff Picks
Kell is the last Antari, magicians with the rare ability to travel between parallel Londons: Red, Grey, White, and in the before, Black. With his very peculiar coat, he serves the Maresh Empire, travelling between White London as an ambassador. What they don't know is that Kell is a smuggler, with a dangerous vice teetering on the boundary of consequence. But, of course an exchange goes wrong, he escapes to Grey London, meetes Delilah Bard, and hopes that their fated meeting saves him from a deadly enemy and catapults for a daring adventure. Impeccible world building, captivating characters, and the world that just can't live without.— From Michelle's Picks
A Darker Shade of Magic, from #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.
"A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale...This is a book to treasure."—Deborah Harkeness, New York Times bestselling author of the All Souls trilogy
Shades of Magic series
1. A Darker Shade of Magic
2. A Gathering of Shadows
3. A Conjuring of Light
Entertainment Weekly's 27 Female Authors Who Rule Sci-Fi and Fantasy Right Now
“A Darker Shade of Magic has all the hallmarks of a classic work of fantasy. Its plot is gripping. Its characters are memorable. Its setting in four parallel, powerful Londons is otherworldly yet believable. Schwab has given us a gem of a tale that is original in its premise and compelling in its execution. This is a book to treasure.” —Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of The All Souls Trilogy
“Compulsively readable...her characters make the book. Just as Kell has layers, Lila is a satisfyingly rich invention...With so many worlds on the map, there's plenty left to discover.” —NPR
“A Darker Shade of Magic feels like a priceless object, brought from another, better world of fantasy books.” —io9
“Schwab (Vicious) creates an ingenious set of nesting alternate Londons in this imaginative, well-crafted fantasy. Confident prose and marvelous touches-a chameleon coat, a scarlet river of magic, a piratical antiheroine-bring exuberant life to an exhilarating adventure among the worlds.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A Darker Shade of Magic is smart, funny and sexy ... Schwab keeps the excitement coming with roller-coaster plot twists that establish her as, perhaps, the natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones's contemporary fantasy crown.” —The Independent
“Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.” —Kirkus Reviews