Black-eyed Magicians and No-ship Pirates. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwabb [Review]

This month, it’s #womeninsff month where reader’s showcase their pick of fantasy/scifi books written by women! I’ve seen this book a lot on Instagram and people really seem to like this series. When I saw a good deal for these books I snatched them up. Now, do they live up to the hype? This will be short and bitter-sweet.

The Plot

Kell is a rare breed of magician called Antari who can travel between worlds: Red London, White London and Grey London. Black London became a victim to a consuming magic and was sealed off never to be heard from again. It is forbidden for items from the different Londons to cross into the other worlds. Too bad Kell is in a habit for collecting objects from different worlds. When a stone with forbidden magic falls into his hands, it’s up to him and pirate-without-a-ship Lila to send the stone back to where it came.

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

My Thoughts

This is a rather straight-forward adventure style fantasy with a somewhat familiar magic system (control of the elements) with a few tweaks (blood magic enacted by verbal commands). Honestly, I didn’t care much for the magic system as opposed to others. The characters felt a little flat and derivative to me with the possible exception of Lila about 10% of the time. I didn’t really click with these characters but I still enjoyed the banter and funny quips . For me, this book started out with promise but towards the end I just wanted to finish this and wasn’t really invested as to what would happen.

This book is for those wanting a fantasy adventure to read with a slightly different concept of magic and parallel worlds. However, don’t ask for original characters with depth other than your usual fantasy tropes. While I didn’t love this it was an enjoyable read.

There are various collectors editions out there with added content, fan art and different colored-covers. This edition was the Barnes and Noble collectors edition which my favorite part about it was the ribbon bookmark. I’m a sucker for those.

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