Shades of Magic: Series Review

As Athera. To grow.

As Pyrata. To burn.

As Illumae. To light.

As Orense. To open.

As Anase. To dispel.

As Hasari. To heal.

As Travars. To Travel.

Shades of Magic is a three-book series written by V. E. Schwab which started with A Darker Shade of Magic, followed by A Gathering of Shadows, then finally A Conjuring of Light. It is the first new series in a really long while that I have fallen in love with. When I read super popular books, I try to lower my expectations because they rarely lived up to the hype. But these ones are a keeper and this series have quickly gone up in my list of favorites.

What I love about this series?

~ The author breathes life into words that gave flight to my mind’s eye.

~ The writing is concise, not lyrical, and yet beautiful.

~ Multiple Londons

The infamous Krös Mejkt, the “Stone Forest,” was made up not of trees but of statues, all of them people. It was rumored the figures hadn’t always been stone, that the forest was actually a graveyard, kept by the Danes to commemorate those they killed, and remind any who passed through the outer wall of what happened to traitors in the twins’ London.

~ A peculiar coat with more than two sides.

~ Kings and Queens (normal, evil, and mad).

~ Unique, weird, and strong characters.

  • Tough, complex, lonely Kell. Adopted son, piercely loyal brother, and badass Antari.
  • Reckless, maddening, impossible Delila Bard.
  • A well-loved prince, an enigmatic pirate, and a palace guard who’s supposed to be a priest.
  • An anti-hero you will care for in the end.

~ A M/M romance that, for the first time, I liked because it was classily written.

~ A villain that’s everything a villain should be.

~ Sassy dialogues, violence, blood, lots of fighting, and magic!

~ Wild, fast paced, and an insanely fun adventure.

~ This series and particularly the 3rd book, have made me shed a copious amount of tears, which almost never happens when I’m reading a fantasy.

Favorite Quotes

There are too many beautiful quotes in this series, here are some of my favorites.

“A respectable prison is still a prison.”


“Such is the quandary when it comes to magic, that it is not an issue of strength but of balance. For too little power, and we become weak. Too much, and we become something else entirely.”

– TIEREN SERENSE, head priest of the London Sanctuary

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

– TIEREN SERENSE, head priest of the London Sanctuary

“Scars are not shameful, not unless you let them be. If you do not wear them, they will wear you.”


“Caring was a thing with claws. It sank them in, and didn’t let go. Caring hurt more than a knife to the leg, more than a few broken ribs, more than anything that bled or broke and healed again. Caring didn’t break you clean. It was a bone that didn’t set, a cut that wouldn’t close.”


Here is the synopsis of A Darker Shade of Magic, the first book in the series.

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.


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