For the ones who dream of stranger worlds


A Darker Shade of Magic is an adult fantasy book by V.E. Schwab. It is the first installment of the Shades of Magic trilogy.


Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.


Such is the quandary when it comes to magic, that it is not an issue of strength but of balance. For too little power, and we become weak. For too much, and we become something else entirely.

Tieren Serense

Part I: The TravelerEdit

Part II: Red RoyalEdit

Part III: Grey ThiefEdit

Part IV: White ThroneEdit

Part V: Black StoneEdit

Part VI: Thieves MeetEdit

Part VII: The FollowerEdit

Part VIII: An ArrangementEdit

Part IX: Festival & FireEdit

Part X: One White RookEdit

Part XI: MasqueradeEdit

Part XII: Sanctuary & SacrificeEdit

Part XIII: The Waiting KingEdit

Part XIV: The Final DoorEdit


Red LondonEdit

  • Kell Maresh — The adopted Antari Prince of Arnes. As an Antari, Kell functions as an ambassador between the other Londons; he regularly uses these official travels for his smuggling affairs. He crosses paths with Lila Bard when he receives a mysterious stone from Black London.
  • Rhy Maresh — The Crown Prince of Arnes. Rhy is the only biological son of King Maxim and Queen Emira, and the younger brother of Kell. While his adoptive brother is an Antari, Rhy barely possesses any magic.
  • Maxim Maresh — The King of Arnes. Maxim is the husband of Emira and the father of Rhy and Kell.
  • Emira Maresh — The Queen of Arnes. Emira is the wife of Maxim and the mother of Rhy and Kell.
  • Calla — A vendor at the Night Market.

Grey LondonEdit

  • Lila Bard — The Shadow Thief. Lila is a skilled thief who does not easily trust people and dreams to possess her own ship and be a pirate someday. She meets Kell when she steals the Black London stone from him.
  • Barron — The owner of the Stone's Throw.
  • Ned Tuttle — An Enthusiast. Ned wants to study and learn magic.
  • George III — The King of the United Kingdom. Due to his dementia and "madness," George is unable to rule.
  • George, Prince Regent — The regent of the United Kingdom. As his father is unable to rule, he acts as the prince regent.

White LondonEdit

  • Holland Vosijk — The Antari "slave" of the Dane twins. Holland, just like Kell, is an ambassador. He is bound, controlled, and tortured by Athos Dane.
  • Athos Dane — One of the two ruthless co-rulers of Makt. Athos is the twin brother of Astrid and bound Holland with a soulseal.
  • Astrid Dane — One of the two ruthless co-rulers of Makt. Astrid is the twin sister of Athos.
more characters

Collector's EditionEdit

Main article: A Darker Shade of Magic (Collector's Edition)

On October 31, 2017, a special collector's edition of A Darker Shade of Magic was released.



Discarded cover designs[1]Edit


Book Trailer A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E

Book Trailer A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Official book trailer.


  • The novel's original title was "Traveler." It was decided to change it after a dispute over whether to spell it with one or two "l"s.[2] After going through dozens of possible titles, it was finally settled on A Darker Shade of Magic.[3]
  • While working on A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab nicknamed the book "PIRATES, THIEVES, AND SADIST KINGS."[4][5]