55 pages 1 hour read

V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2015

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Symbols & Motifs

Color Symbolism

Color symbolism plays a key role in Schwab’s worldbuilding and enhances the novel’s setting, stakes, and character development. Each of the four interconnected cities is represented by a color that gives insight into its true nature. Kell Maresh calls his home Red London after the color of healthy, balanced magic. His thriving world is illuminated by the Isle, a crimson river that “glitter[s] like a jewel, lit from within, a ribbon of constant light unraveling through Red London. A source. A vein of power. An artery” (44). Schwab associates the color red with vitality, life, and power. Red London’s color symbolism marks it as a safe and prosperous place filled with magic, a stark contrast to the other worlds Kell visits. Grey London is a grim place suffused with the smell of smoke; people there must rely on industry because they “had forgotten magic long ago” (22). Grey London is a representation of real-world 1800s London, a crowded, realistic metropolis concerned with industrial developments like steam and gas power. Color symbolism helps the reader understand the privileged life Kell enjoys in Red London and the struggles