When I read it: December 2015
Genres: fantasy; historical fiction(ish)
Recommended for: Fantasy lovers who want something different.
What it’s about:
Kell is one of the last of his kind. He is a traveler. Travelers are magicians with rare and special talents that allow them to enter each of the parallel universes, which are connected by one city shared by all (and, coincidentally, all named London).
Kell was raised in Red London–a thriving city with an abundance of magic–alongside the heir to the throne, Rhy. Grey London no longer has magic and is ruled over by King George III, who clings to his obsession with the magic his realm has lost. White London has magic, but it’s a constant battlefield where everyone tries to cling to what magic they can find, and the magic doesn’t come easy. Black London fell long ago and is little more than a myth anymore, and no one really speaks of it.
Kell is the Red London ambassador, and every month he travels between the Londons to deliver messages to the rulers of each London. In his spare time, he smuggles things between the cities to people willing to pay for anything from the worlds they themselves will never be able to visit. It’s a dangerous past time with severe consequences, which he soon experiences himself.
When Kell escapes to Grey London, he runs into Delilah Bard, a clever thief with a thirst for adventure. After robbing him, then later saving him, she makes him take her with him to a new world so she can finally experience something.
Dangerous magic is on the loose and they can never be sure who to trust, but, somehow they have to find a way to save not just one world, but all of them.
This book, omg. If you spend much time in the bookish areas of the internet, you’ve probably seen plenty of people screeching about this one. I remember when I first heard about it, and I didn’t think it would live up to the hype. At that point, I hadn’t read anything else by Victoria (“V.E.”) Schwab, but I did have a couple of her books on my TBR, and one already on my shelf, so I didn’t really know anything about her and her writing. Then I got to read the sample of this from Net Galley and I almost threw my Kindle across the room because I couldn’t read the rest right then. (See my reaction post to that here.) And then life and book slumps happened and I ended up not reading it for almost a year, but I never stopped thinking about it.
Just trust me. If you want something that’s different, has wonderful writing, characters that could climb off the pages, and the perfect amount of world-building without bogging you down with too many details, pick up this book! At the time of this writing, the first two books in the Shades of Magic series are out. The second book is A Gathering of Shadows (which I still haven’t finished because I didn’t want to sully the experience by forcing my way through it during a book slump), and the third, A Conjuring of Light, is being released in just over two weeks (February 21st, 2017).