Rummanah Aasi
Description: 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.

Review: The Shade of Magic series is a great introduction to fantasy for readers who may not be too comfortable with the genre. It is fast paced adventure that is quick to get into with a great, medium-sized cast of characters with an easy to understand world and magic system. It is also a great teen to adult crossover book. 
 In A Darker Shade of Magic we are taken to a series of interconnected Londons ruled by magic--or the lack of it. Long ago, the doors between worlds were open, and anyone with magic could travel from one to the next. Now the doors are closed, and only a chosen few called Antaris, designated by two different eye colors, have the power to travel between Grey London, a world without magic, Red London, a world suffused with it, and White London, a world where magic is scarce, coveted and jealously guarded. Black London is a city consumed and dangerous. 
 Our main protagonist is Kell, an official royal messenger who carries important documents to the rulers of the three Londons and a confidant to the royal prince. Kell also has a guilty pleasure that always seems to land him in trouble: he is an unofficial smuggler who has the itch to collect artifacts from other worlds. During his latest "shopping spree" Kell accepts a dangerous relic, something that shouldn't exist that kicks off a great chase and adventure in our story. 
 Kell is very much an "every-man" type of character. He isn't particularly striking with the exception of his eye colors and being an Antari. He has no recollection of his parents though he is fiercely devoted and loyal to Rhy, the unabashedly flamboyant prince who regards him as a brother. Kell and Rhy's bromance is fantastic and it was a pleasure watching these two interact. 
 In my opinion the book really didn't take off for me until I we traveled to Grey London where we met a cunning thief named Lila who steals the artifact for Kell and who equally intrigues and infuriates him. Lila is an unconventional heroine who refuses to play the damsel in distress card and quick to draw her knives. She is clearly street smart and fiercely independent. 
 Schwab has created three distinct and memorable Londons in this book, but really her characters run the show. The plot moves at a brisk pace and there is hardly any time to be bored. Though I would have loved a bit more character development, I really enjoyed the start of this series. Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

Words of Caution: There is some language and some strong violence. Recommended for Grade 9 and up.

If you like this book try: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), for a darker fantasy that also contains parallel worlds check out Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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