A Darker Shade Of Magic

Cap­i­tal quadru­pled

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Re­lease Date: OUT NOW! 400 pages | Pa­per­back Au­thor: VE Sch­wab Pub­lisher: Ti­tan Books

Why set­tle for one al­ter­nate his­tory Lon­don? VE Sch­wab’s ur­ban fan­tasy, set in the Ge­or­gian era, gives us four dif­fer­ent ver­sions, each with a dif­fer­ent re­la­tion­ship to magic.

There’s Grey Lon­don ( our world) which has largely forgotten magic; Red Lon­don, an op­u­lent place with a healthy re­la­tion­ship with magic; White Lon­don, where peo­ple crave magic; and Black Lon­don, a closed- off world of wild magic.

Kell, of Red Lon­don, is one of a dy­ing breed who can move be­tween worlds, which he does at the bid­ding of the Red King and Queen. An il­le­gal hobby of smug­gling arte­facts be­tween worlds makes him an un­will­ing pawn in a deadly power play. Help comes from an un­likely source; a Grey Lon­don thief and wannabe pirate called Lila.

It’s hardly the most earth­shat­ter­ingly orig­i­nal sce­nario, and the book is slight in terms of plot, but Sch­wab in­jects en­ergy and life into it with snappy dia­logue, lively char­ac­ters and ex­cit­ingly writ­ten der­ring- do. At times it reads like the pi­lot for a TV se­ries, and some of the mag­i­cal im­agery seems to be in­flu­enced by familiar CGI trick­ery. It might also have helped if “our” Lon­don felt a lit­tle bet­ter re­searched, as it feels al­most as fan­ci­ful as the oth­ers.

It could do with be­ing a shade darker, but it has a cer­tain magic. Dave Golder One of Sch­wab’s favourite words is “boketto”, which is Ja­panese for “gaz­ing va­cantly into the dis­tance with­out think­ing”.

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