Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – DNF

I got a little bored with this one, 200 pages in. I liked Schwab as a person and for her other novel Vicious. This one also appears to have had its movie rights snatched up so I thought that was a good indication of its content. But the story was a bit too basic — it all rests on the power of a mysterious stone that can give magic to those who are holding it…or something like that. The four Londons are really three — one of the Londons, Black London, is no longer a thing but the stone comes from there. I found myself not really caring about the characters or the Londons. In fact, I grow tired of stories set in London or anything too Anglo-centric. Not trying to be a patriot here, but there are plenty of interesting things that could happen outside of the U.K. and Europe. Beyond this, the main character, Kell, seemed a bit too much like Doctor Who — for no particular reason other than he picks up a female sidekick and has a coat that can be folded into different styles and colors. Very Doctor-ish. Side note: I don’t like Doctor Who.

I liked the Coat of Many Styles but his one dark eye seemed too much like Terry Pratchett’s Mr. Teatime. That’s all I could picture, which made Kell seem a bit ridiculous.

The female character, Lila, was a straight up rip off of Elizabeth Swan, I felt like.

And then suddenly Kell and Lila are given this contrived reason to be around each other: the stone, which Lila pickpockets off Kell, not knowing what it is. And they decide it’s a good idea to return the stone back to Black London or something. Together.

For 400 pages — and 200 just to get to that point — I think I’ll wait for the movie to come out to finish this story. I don’t feel like something so simple is worth another 200.

Other Goodreads Reviews that I feel backed up my reason to stop reading:

For a 400-page book, there needs to be more than just a stupid plot about a magic stone. There are no subplots, no subterfuge, no otherness about it. There was nothing at all, except a short story that was stretched out and stuffed full of padding to satisfy a word count.


Another reviewer mentioned that this book felt like a play for a movie deal. It does, big time. It feels like a terribly written action movie (oh, is there any other kind?) – one-dimensional characters, a somewhat interesting concept, action scenes with just enough dialogue in between to keep pushing the plot along. 


It seems like the very idea of her was taken from watching Kiera Knightly in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. By the end, she has a pirate coat and is seen looking at a bunch of ships deciding which one to steal.

There’s a lot to be confused about in this book too. Especially, trying to remember the differences between the 4 Londons. Yes, there are 4. It’s some alternate dimension thing?? There’s really no explanation as to why there are at least 4 different (overlapping) universes here other than the need for Kell to jump between them because of some quasi-political reasons.


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