A Darker Shade of Magic

V.E Schwab - Tor Books

Read By: nurul.nurfitriana

There’s something that people didn’t really know about London, it is actually a parallel universe. Divided into four Londons; Red, Grey, White, and once upon a time Black, they have their own characteristics.

  • Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire.
  • Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George.
  • White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones.
  • Once there was Black London…but no one speaks of that now.

The parallel London

21-year-old boy from Red London, Kell, is an Antari. A person who has magic runs in his blood, and can travel between the Londons. Kell has a dangerous hobby, smuggling, which leads him trapped in accidental treason. Escaping to Grey London, he collides with ‘Shadow Thief’ Delilah ‘lila’ Bard, who first robs him, but also save him from a dangerous enemy.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

“I wrote this book, so I’m probably biased. Since it’s early, and the full jacket copy isn’t out, here’s a list of things in ADSOM:

–Cross-dressing thieves
–(Aspiring) pirates
–Londons (plural)
–Sadistic kings (and queens)
–A royal who is equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness
–More magic (blood magic, elemental magic, bad magic, etc. etc.)
–Epic magicky fights scenes
–And coats with more than two sides”


Well, ADSOM actually my second choice for this ER course, after John Green’s masterpiece ‘An Abundance of Kathrine’. I got this recommendation a year ago, but sadly I didn’t immediately read this book. Back then, I’m keen on reading science fiction and/or teen fiction. However, recently I like to broaden my reading experience, and when i look around my book collection i start thinking ‘why I’m not start it with reading something like fantasy’. That’s it, I’m giving ADSOM a shot, and turns out, this book is really alluring. 

NRDateBook's Chapter/PagesPages/WordsPlaceTime
16 September 2017I. The Traveler (11-15)5At boarding house25 mins

The first five pages tell Kell, a traveler between parallel Londons, who wears a peculiar coat (imagine a coat with several sides). He's a messenger from Red London. It is a fine job for him, but there's some risks in it. He can make a 'door', and when he makes one, he needs token, his blood, and a spell like 'As Tascen' or 'As Travar'.

I realize that I'm a slow reader and I found some of unconfirmed words in this book, but the story really interesting and I still can get the idea.

212 September 2017I. The Traveler (16-19)4At Boarding house27 mins

This actually the second sub chapter of the first chapter, here's Kell continues his job deliver the letter to Grey London. Kell's appearance is revealed. He has blue eye in the left side while the other is black (not a bruise from falling, or etc) but truly a solid black, that runs edge to edge, filling white and iris both. It's his identity as a blood magician, an Antari. Kell, also has copper hair, which the front is a bit long consciously as a concealment for his eye. Somehow, this appearance (the black eye) marked him as the other, even in his city.

Okay, may be the black eye makes Kell looks terrifying, nonetheless, I still find Kell is attractive 😋

316 September 2017I. The Traveler (20-25)6On the bus52 mins

This is the last sub chapter of chapter one. After doing his job, Kell often to visit a tavern, this time it's 'Stone's Throw'. A place that he chooses to relieve the fatigue. A place that somehow make him unconscious unofficially a traitor, because of his hobby, 'smuggling' magic goods with something that 'worth' based on Kell's appraisal. However, Kell is very selective with whom he like to make a business, he likes 'collector' over 'enthusiast'. At that time, Kell exchange his trinket of board games with a music box, a cog music box.

Okay, reading this chapter is really take a toll on me. It not because the story that hard to understand, but because I read it on the bus, which bumping all the time!. Then, 'why don't you just read it later in a better condition?', because I just want to fill my leisure time. So, 6 pages is really worth to read.

417 September 2017II. Red Royal (27-36)10At the beach47 mins

I almost read the whole this second chapter, but, alas the time is not enough because I read this book while I'm in vacation with some frineds in Sadranan beach, and we need to go back. This time I can read more comfortable than before when I read on the bus, thanks to breeze from the waves, though, I read this in the crowd.

Back to the story, this chapter is opened by Holland, the other Antari from different land, gives the Red London prince, Rhy, a birthday gift, which this act, almost caught red handed by the Royal guard.

In other place, a countryside, Kell passes by a full swing Night Market. He nearly blended in, thanks to his peculiar coat, but not long until a boy stumbled back in Kell's path. Then, all the attention is on him, Kell is poor at managing this situation, not like Rhy, which is an expertise to use his charm to twist and own it. All Kell wanted is only to disappear.

When Kell get back to the palace, he finds the Royals is having a tea time, and discussing Rhy's up coming birthday party. The Royals consider Kell as their family, but somehow Kell doesn't feel the same, like in the past Kell had said.

"Are you not loved?" Whispered Rhy. "Are you not welcomed as family?"
"But I'm not family, Rhy," Kell had said. "I'm not truly a Maresh, for all that the king and queens have offered me that name. I feel more like a possession than a prince."

And Rhy, being a Rhy, he loves Kell as a brother and close friend, and he cares about what Kell's 'doing'. Rhy knows that his brother found smuggling is amusing, but it can make him a traitor, and Rhy always warns him.

520 September 2017II. Red Royal (37-39) III. Grey Thief (41-42)5At Nurul Huda Mosque library35 mins

I tried to fill the interval time between my class with reading, and library is a good place to do it. I read the remain chapter of second chapter and the opening of third chapter.

So, after Kell went back to his room, he travels back to his secret room in another place in Red London. He transfers in a tavern, Ruby Fields. Once, he bought a room in that tavern, then he put a spellwork to make that room hidden from anyone. The room is nothing than the palace, but it's entirely belonged to Kell. He likes to put his 'stuffs' in there, let say; a book of poems, a set of maps, and the music box.

The fatigue almost allures Kell to his slumber, but before that he need to clean his wound in his arm, a sacrifice for making a door. The wound not really bad, and it will heal quickly, after all he's an Antari.

Kell gets a glimpse of a small scar just bellow the crook of his elbow. Memory. Contrary to its name, it's a magic to make someone forget. Actually magic that bound to person's body or mind is forbidden, moreover it's capital offense, but Kell suspects that the king and queen themselves has sanctioned it.

All that Kell knows that he has lived in the palace since he was five, he is an Antari, and the only thing that he has from the beginning is a knife with initials K.L. Kell not sure for what it stands for, but he sure enough that his parents is not an Antari. Magic might live in the blood, but not in the bloodline. It chooses it's on way, whether it lucky throw of dice, divine destined greatness, or the result of transference between the worlds. For sure, Antari is sacred.

About the Grey Thief, there lives Lila Bard with her simple rule: if a thing was worth having, it was worth taking. She blessed with not just quick but also light fingers, which an advantage for a pickpocketer.
Lila unconsciously famous for her acts. It proven by a stanger shows her a wanted poster; a sketch with a shadowing outline wearing a mask-hazard swatch of fabric over the eyes-and a broad brim hat. The stranger advise her to be careful, but she knows too well.

621 September 2017III. Grey Thief (43-48)6At my house (sragen)47 mins

Okay, 6 pages in 47 mins...why I'm such a slowpoke, but that's what I had wrote in my log book. I don't really remember what makes me taking a lot time for reading such pages, nonetheless I still can grab the idea.

So, it still about Lila's life. Once she lived in a docked-nearly drowned old boat, Sea King. 19 years old, pickpocketing didn’t give enough reason for Lila to live in another, hopefully better place. Though, Lila found Sea King was right, for her pirate spirit.

Lila is not that pretty more like boyish, may be that's way lots her victim were women. Still she's a girl, and that night a liar, drunkard, fool boat-lord, Powell, wanted his payment with something different. Lila knew very well that's that night she needed to leave Sea King, but there the pigheaded Powell tried to force her. Sadly, Powell has chose the wrong person, gave Lila no other choice.

That night, with the drowing (finally) Sea King, Lila looked for a place to stay. Her feet led her to her last choice, the dingy but odd Stone's Throw. Barron, the owner unsurprisingly knew what made her come to him, maybe that's why the smoke dancing in the night sky. Even though, Barron knows Lila is troublesome, he couldn't (or more wouldn't ) leave her alone.

722 September 2017IV. White Throne ( 49-62)14At my house (sragen)55 mins.

So, this is contrary with my previous reading which I took lot of time to read. I must say this is truly what I have wrote in my logbook, without adding or omitting the time consuming.

White London is the land torn by violence and power; trapped and forced to fight back the dark plague, and the corrupted magic out. Power in balance, but here's power in dominance. Once glorious, fell to chaos and conquering. Blood and ash.

Kell is ordered by the king Maxim to deliver the letter to that neighbor. Fear and excitement is what Kell felt when traveling there. Currently the land is controlled by the Dane twins, Athos and Astrid; ruthless, cunning, terrible but clever. The throne is not held by blood, but taken by it. Someone cut their way to the throne and holds it as long as they can-a year, maybe two-until they fall, and someone else rises. Kings come and go. It is a constant cycle.

The twins use magic as they please, controlling, possessing, or binding the body and mind of another person. That's what went on Holland, he used to be an ally for the previous king but now he is a servant, controlled by the twins. Here's dialogue from Athos to Holland 😟

"Jealous?" He said. "He suffered," added Athos softly. "But not like you." He brought his mouth closer. "No one suffers as beautifully as you."

823 September 2017IV. White Throne (63-68)6At my house (sragen)45 mins.

Kell's presence in White London makes the twins thrilled, especially Astrid. Obviously she wants Kell as hers, and that's why they lure him at least to have a drink with them. Hesitantly Kell agreed. But being a Dane, it's not just a drink. It's Holland's blood. Kell couldn't or more wouldn't to do that, but the Dane still drank it anyway.

In his way back to home light-headed drunk Kell tried to focus. He couldn't go home, not yet, not like that, so he decided to wander around it through the streets of White London. He is foolish, reckless, always being reckless, Why? Kell thought. If Rhy was with him he would ask why you like step out of safety into a shadow, risk, danger? Kell thoughts is interrupted by a voice.

The story is getting tense. The Dane twins make me itchy. Itching to strangle them 😡.

928 September 2017IV. White Throne (69-70) V. Black Stone (72-73)4At my boarding house22 mins.

So, i read the remain pages of White Throne, here's the the continuation.

In the street, Kell met a woman, strange woman. She wanted Kell to deliver a letter to her family, in the different world. She was seperated with her family when the doors were sealed, and now she heard that her relative is sick.. It was odd, how could she know his well-being, then she said she know it from the other Antari. Much odder. She gave Kell a letter with the address on the envelope and a parcel, as a payment. Kell want to know what's inside the wrapper, but the woman insisted to unwrap it in somewhere else. For a moment Kell focused on the mystery in his hand, and want to refuse it, but there's no one to refuse. The woman was gone.

For Black Stone chapter, I read the first sub chapter. It is about Lila after doing her 'job' in the way to Stone's Throw she passed a boy. He was ragged and thin, holding out his hands palm skyward. Lila dropped a few coppers to his hand and walk away, with no stop, no acknowledge his thanks. She didn't know what made her do it, good spirit, maybe. She was about to rest but when she saw three thugs robbing the previous boy, she wouldn't let it happen easily.

So far I like Lila's character, brave, badass, sassy, even though, I still not agree with the robbing but I can understand it. Obvious heroine, but I feel like she holds a mystery.

1028 September 2017V. Black Stone (74-82)9Campus, (Tania and Lab. 2)1 hour, 3 mins

This time I read the book in two places, like parallel-y reading. After I'm done doing my group assignment which was I'm doing it at benches in front of Tania I got a chance to read, it was during my break time. I read good several pages but, my break time was over. Then, fortunately my lecturer informed that she would be late, so, I'm continuing my reading.

Here's the summary but I feel like I'm spoiling 😭😭😭

Kell had been set up. There's no one in the address of the letter, and Kell's fee actually is black stone from Black London. A vitari, to be precise, a magic stone which can create anything. Because of that power, obviously Kell had been followed by the cutthroat, fight can be avoided, unintentionally Kell had used the stone's magic, and it was terrific because his blood magic can't do that. Seeing this magic, Kell remember what happened in Black London and he need to ged rid of the stone as quick as possible, but before that he need to go to other place.

At different place, Lila was setting up her strategy to fight against three young thugs. She nearly win, but before one of them reliazed that the 'Shadow thief' is after all, a girl. Lila hates to do this, but there's no other choice, she run away.

111 October 2017V. Black Stone (83-84) VI. Thieves Meet (86-90)6On the bus21 mins.

The second time I read on the bus, and this time I nailed it 😌. In twenty one minutes I can read 6 pages. This time the bus didn't bump so hard, and I'm confortable enough to read. Actually, I kinda distracting myself from the riding because the high speed (you will know the feeling when you ride a 'Surabaya-nan Bus) 😹✌

For the summary, Kell and Lila FINALLY met, and Lila robbed him (smh) and it none than the black stone. After a good second Kell reliazed that he'd been robbed, he need to find the stone a soon as possible.

124 October 2017VI. Thieves Meet (91-96)6Lab. 119 mins.

Kell finally could find his robber by using a kerchief she gave him before, but Kell at in bad state and the poor boy fainted at Lila's feet. Woke up, Kell found himself tied up to the bed, and he warned Lila that the stone contains a bad magic.Curiosity took a toll on her, she played the magic by making anything, such 'Kell'. The creature was trying to attack Lila, but Kell finally could get free and dispelled the magic by his blood magic, As Anase. Then, the possition is reversed, Lila is being cuffed on the wall, while Kell continues his business. Then, when Kell went out from the room, he reliazed that the building is Stone's Throw, how odd it was.

This chapter kind of funny but a tad tense, and like more story between Kell and Lila 😂.

134 October 2017VI. Thieves Meet (97-99)3At Nurul Huda Mosque19 mins

These three pages feels like 'filler', but still important. It showed that the magic from stone is like plague. It will give whatever you want, even the impossible one but then it will consume you, not just your body, your mind, but also your soul. Terrifying right? 😳

Here's a quote about it.

Bad magic, Kell had called it.
No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.
And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week, Lila knew that much.

145 October 2017VII. The Follower (101-112)12At Nurul Huda Mosque library39 mins.

I feel like I'm spoiling again 😭😭😭, but here's the summary.

It was obvious and blunt that Kell had been set up, and the follower is no other than ******* . He used Lila as a bait, so Kell will give him the stone. Actually, Lila didn't believe and has little hope that Kell would come back and save her. Because she know she met him in not such appropriate condition. But surprisingly (not me, hehe) Kell come back, but didn't really know for what reason. After Kell came, Lila is released and Kell asked her to run away. Then it just left the two Antari, and the fight begin (it's epic, I won't spoil it).

1511 October 2017VII. The Follower (113-116) VIII. The Arrangement (118-119)6At Nurul Huda Mosque library21 mins

So, i try not too much spoiling the story. 😷
This chapter is the aftermath of the battle between the two Antari, and Lila is playing a big role. And I think the fight is nothing compared to what the rest of the story, because I just barely reach the half of the book 😂.

So, talking about the book, it's interesting for sure, I'm enjoying this book. The plot is so smooth, from differentiate the Londons or defining past and present. The story details is prosperous, using proper description, and may be because of this there are quite lot unconfirmed words, nonetheless, the ideas are clear enough. I like how the writer dressed the characters, and the monarch setting.

About Kell, so far what I know is, he's a loving brother. I found it from how he will imagine or recall Rhy's attitudes or acts as if Rhy is beside him.

1610 October 2017VIII. The Arrangement (120-123)4Building E lobby14 mins

I'm aware about how much times I spend to read a page, and lately I can read under 5 mins per page in comfortable situation, quite improvement right? Hehe.

So, Lila likes an adventure, she was curious about Kell, the stone, and magic, but above them all she wanted an adventure between worlds. Kell told her a little story about him, and the four Londons, and what happen if the stone is not return to Black London. And Lila decided to help Kell, because she knew that Kell couldn't do it alone.

1712 October 2017VIII. The Arrangement (124-125)2At Nurul Huda Mosque library15 mins.

Lila is stubborn, and she wants to Kell to bring her with him.
Here's one the lines of Lila's stubbornness,

Kell refused to let it go. "Why do you really want to do this?"
"Because I'm a fool. "
"Because I can't stay here," she snapped, the smile gone from her face. "Because I want to see the world, even if it's not mine. And because I will save your life. "

Madness, thought Kell, transference is a treason. He might has smuggled music box, but smuggling a thief is quite another.

Yes, go Lila! Go do adventure!

1813 October 2017VIII. The Arrangement (126-133) IX. Festival & Fire (134-152) X. One White Rook (154-178)50At my house (sragen)3 hours

I'm on fire, and I just read 3 chapter in once. I just got the time and I can stop it.

The remains pages of chapter VIII showed that Kell finally agreed to let Lila accompany him, and she will transfer with the help of the stone too. This chapter has Kell and Lila's moment 😁 (I can't stop smiling)

Kell frowned. "I've never met anyone like you."
He hadn't meant it as compliment, but Lila took it that way, flashing him a grin.
"What can I say," she said, "I'm one of a kind."
Kell managed an echo of her smile, and she gasp. "What's that on your face?"
The smile vanished. "What?"
Another (I just want to savour the moment, and of course Kell's smile)
"I'm not going to die, " she said. "Not till I've seen it."
"Seen what?"
Her smile widened. "Everything"
Kell smiled back.

But sadly, after that moment the next pages is about someone died 😢, it just hurt. The next chapter (festival & fire) is about Rhy's birthday party. There are parade and masquerade, and Kell knows that his brother will sulk for good week because of his absence, but Kell cannot take risks to delay his business. In 'one white rook' chapter everything went wrong, like Kell being 'kidnapped' by the Royals, and the other oddity.

1914 October 2017XI. Masquerade (180-197) XII. Sanctuary & Sacrifice (199-218) XIII. The Waiting King (220-240) XIV. The Final Door (242-252)70At my house (sragen)3 hours 42 mins.

I can't believe I'm done reading this book 😭, and this last attempt I'm covering four chapters almost in four hours. I'm still on fire to read the book, after previously I read a lot too. I'm just curious what is actually happen? And after I read the book, boom! Everything makes sense. Some parts are really shook me, but some parts I kinda predict them.

It's hard to make summary without spoil what actually happen, so I just will leave some hints like, fighting, sacrifice, intruder, dying, zombie-like, and chaos. The sad thing is Kell has to separate with Lila 😳.

So, i really recommend this book for reading it will amaze you page by page. Thank you! xoxo