55 pages 1 hour read

V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2015

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Important Quotes

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“The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed. Not all of them were fashionable, but they each served a purpose. There were ones that blended in and ones that stood out, and one that served no purpose but of which he was just particularly fond.”

(Chapter 1, Page 11)

When Schwab introduces Kell Maresh, she emphasizes his adaptable nature and strategic thinking. Just like his shifting magical coat, he knows what side of himself to show in each of the worlds. However, as is soon revealed, Kell doesn’t feel that he truly belongs in any of them.

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“Kell—inspired by the lost city known to all as Black London—had given each remaining capital a color. Grey for the magic-less city. Red, for the healthy empire. White, for the starving world.”

(Chapter 1, Page 15)

This excerpt represents the first passage in which the multiple Londons are named. The specific colors Kell chooses as labels for the worlds symbolize the settings’ vastly different characteristics. The worlds have a major impact on the characters’ development: Growing up in “healthy” Red London, Kell enjoys tremendous comfort and privilege compared to Lila Bard from the “magic-less” Grey London and Holland Vosijk from the “starving” White London. Their contrasting backgrounds impact the dynamics between these characters.

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“‘[T]here was a time, ages ago, when […] doors ran between your world and mine, and others, and anyone with a bit of power could pass through. Magic itself could pass through. But the thing about magic,’ added Kell, ‘is that it preys on the strong-minded and the weak-willed, and one of the worlds couldn’t stop itself.’”

(Chapter 1, Page 23)

Kell’s warning to the Prince Regent of Grey London develops the theme of Power as a Path to Corruption. The people of Black London succumbed to greed for magic and destroyed their world in the process. Even though the “worlds are kept separate” now, rulers like the Prince Regent and White London’s king and queen still hunger for greater power and see magic as a way to seize it.