Shades of Magic Wiki

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 Traveler[]

Part II: Red Royal[]

Part III: Grey Thief[]

Part IV: White Throne[]

Part V: Black Stone[]

Part VI: Thieves Meet[]

Part VII: The Follower[]

Part VIII: An Arrangement[]

Part IX: Festival & Fire[]

Part X: One White Rook[]

Part XI: Masquerade[]

Part XII: Sanctuary & Sacrifice[]

Part XIII: The Waiting King[]

Part XIV: The Final Door[]


Red London[]

  • 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 London[]

  • 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 London[]

  • 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 Edition[]

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.

Movie adaptation[]

Main article: A Darker Shade of Magic (movie)

On February 3, 2016, it was announced that Gerard Butler's production company G-BASE have acquired rights to adapt the book as a limited TV series.[1] However, a year later, on February 24, 2017, it was reported that a movie would be produced instead.[2]

On October 3, 2019, the movie's screenwriter was announced: Derek Kolstad, the creator of the John Wick franchise.[3]



Discarded cover designs[4][]



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

Official book trailer.


Cover of the Illumicrate UK Exclusive edition.

  • As of 2018, V. E. Schwab's best opening line, according to her, is the one from A Darker Shade of Magic: "Kell wore a very peculiar coat."[5]
  • 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.[6] After going through dozens of possible titles, it was finally settled on A Darker Shade of Magic.[7]
  • While working on A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab nicknamed the book "PIRATES, THIEVES, AND SADIST KINGS."[8][9]
  • In March 2020, Illumicrate announced that their 5th-anniversary box would be an exclusive "A Darker Shade of Magic" collector's edition box.[10] The box contained a signed exclusive red naked hardback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic which was designed by Titan Books.[11][12] The box sold out in less than 30 minutes.[13] Because the demand was so high and the box sold out so quickly, the box was later restocked, albeit with unsigned copies.[14]


  1. "V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic is Being Adapted for Television!" — Tor
  2. "V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic Is Changing Direction, Now Headed to the Big Screen!" — Tor
  3. "'John Wick' Writer Derek Kolstad to Adapt 'A Darker Shade of Magic' for Sony (EXCLUSIVE)" — Variety
  4. "How the Cover Was Decided for V. E. Schwab's New Book A Darker Shade of Magic" — Tor
  5. "Hey, writers: Share the best opening lines you've written so far." — "Kell wore a very peculiar coat."
    (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
  6. "YES! The original title was TRAVELER but we got locked in a very weird debate in-house over whether it should have one L or two and no one could agree and we'd just come off of VICIOUS, which, shockingly, NO ONE CAN SPELL."
    (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
  7. "A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC was seriously, like, title #73."
    (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
  8. "I wrote PIRATES, THIEVES, AND SADIST KINGS (not real title)."
    (V. E. Schwab on Wordpress)
  9. "A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC will be the first in a new fantasy series at Tor! I've been teasing this book online for AGES now–this is "pirates, thieves, and sadist kings"–and I’m so excited to finally shove this book out of the shadows and into the light!
    (V. E. Schwab on Wordpress)
  10. "2020 marks Illumicrate's 5 year anniversary so for us, this year is all about celebrating those big milestones! We are kicking things off in style by proudly announcing Illumicrate Collections: A Darker Shade of Magic, in collaboration with @veschwab"
    (Illumicrate on Instagram)
  11. "The box will contain a gorgeous naked hardback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic, designed exclusively for us by @titanbooks"
    (Illumicrate on Instagram)
  12. "Illumicrate Collections: A Darker Shade of Magic" — Illumicrate
  13. File:IG Illumicrate box.png
  14. "We honestly cannot believe this box sold out in under 30 minutes on general sale! We know that a lot of you missed out because you didn't expect it to sell so fast, and so we've spoken to the wonderful people at @titanbooks and secured more books! These ones will be unsigned however"
    (Illumicrate on Instagram)
  15. "We are thrilled to reveal our editions for the rest of Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, matching the edition of A Darker Shade of Magic from our Illumicrate Collections box"
    (Illumicrate on Instagram)
  16. "A Gathering of Shadows & A Conjuring of Light set (exclusive editions pre-order)" — Illumicrate