55 pages 1 hour read

V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2015

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Character Analysis

Kell Maresh

Kell Maresh is the novel’s lonely, resolute protagonist. The 21-year-old is “built like an afternoon shadow, tall and slim” (51). His left eye is a “crisp blue,” and the right is “solid black” (22). Kell’s appearance contributes to his feelings of loneliness: “With fair skin and reddish hair, Kell [feels] perpetually out of place” among the tan-skinned, dark-haired royal family (50). When Kell attempts to visit a market incognito, one glimpse of the black eye that marks him as an Antari sends the hitherto merry crowd into a reverent hush.

When Kell’s mistakes threaten the worlds, he resolves to make amends. Although he is terrified of dying, Kell faces both Holland and Athos Dane in deadly battles. He displays a penchant for self-sacrifice throughout the novel. In Chapter 7, Kell walks into “a blunt and obvious trap” for Lila’s sake even though the two are far from friends when Holland abducts her (167). Later, when Astrid kills Rhy, Kell subjects himself to the black stone’s corrupting influence to save his brother: “My life is his life, thought Kell. His life is mine. Bind it to mine and bring him back” (317). Kell gives his life and blood for others without a second thought.