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"They didn't really want to know. They thought they did, but knowing only made them miserable."
This article contains plot details and potential spoilers for the Shades of Magic series. If you have not begun reading the books or are not too far into the story, please do refrain from reading.

I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still.

—Lila, A Darker Shade of Magic, VIII: An Arrangement, I

Captain Lila Bard is a thief from Grey London who found out that she is an Antari after stealing the black stone from Kell Maresh and getting involved in the world of magic.

Following the events of the Black Night, Lila decides to stay in Red London and parts ways with Kell. Shortly afterward, she kills the thief of the Night Spire and promptly declares herself his successor. Later, when Alucard Emery is stripped of his position as a privateer, Lila becomes the new captain of the Night Spire.

Physical description

Lila has short brown hair and a boyish physique which allows her to masquerade as a young man. She also has brown eyes—one of them being slightly lighter than the other as it is a glass eye. Said glass eye replaced Lila's Antari mark—her black eye—which manifested and was lost "in an accident" at some unknown point in her childhood. While fighting Ojka, her glass eye was damaged. It was later replaced with a solid black glass eye which Lila received from Maris Patrol.

When Lila was still living on the streets of Grey London, she was always quite skinny. This changed when she arrived in Red London and started looking healthier.

During the Essen Tasch of 1820, Lila, masquerading as Stasion Elsor, had shorter, slightly darker hair and wore a demon mask for the fights.


As a thief, Lila is cunning, daring and quick-witted where she is able to quickly steal a variety of objects such as a top hat from a dozing chauffeur. She is courageous, proud, and this pride drives her to survive by herself without the help of others.

Lila has a tendency to run away to save her own skin; this is a reflex she has attained from living on the streets and which makes it hard for her to grow close to people. Thus, she prefers to work alone and views caring and love as a form of weakness. However, Lila eventually starts to learn to trust and help others again.

When provoked, Lila can respond violently as shown when she kills Powell.[3] Lila has a predatory side and enjoys being in control. While she held a weakened Kell Maresh in her room, she created another Kell using the black stone, and had him do a striptease "for fun," to Kell's horror.[4]

She dreams of adventures of being a pirate and wanderlusts over journeying around the seas. Her wanderlust is a part of what caused her to travel to the other Londons with Kell. She wants to see as much of the worlds as she can.


A Darker Shade of Magic

A Gathering of Shadows

A Conjuring of Light



Her heart was beating hard against her ribs, some primal part of her saying run, and she was running, just not away. She was tired of running away. So she was running into Kell.
And he caught her.

A Conjuring of Light, IX: Trouble, IV

Upon their first meetings, the two seemed to be intrigued, as well as slightly annoyed by each other. But along their adventure, they grew closer, and while the exact status of their relationship is complicated; both have shown romantic feelings for one another.

During the travel from Grey London to Red London she kissed Kell "for luck". This became a sort of charm between them, Kell kissing her again saying the same thing until they finally shared one or two real kisses.

Although she did not plan on acquiring a companion to care for, as this was against all her reflexes, she at one point started saving Kell even though it risked her own life. They are very compatible characters where both of them feels less scared with the other person when Kell was going into White London to face the twin royals of White London he mentioned that he would not have been able to do it if Lila had not been there with him.


The first time Lila saw Rhy Maresh he was on a carriage in his birthday parade waving and smiling at his people, Rhy noticed Lila was wearing Kell's jacket and stared at her. At this time Kell had been missing for a long time so it came as a shock to see his adoptive brother's cloak on a stranger.

The second time they met, Rhy was possessed by Astrid Dane. Astrid used Rhy to her advantage as Kell refuses to hurt Rhy, but Astrid had not counted Lila who stabbed Rhy. Much happened and Lila was involved in trying to save Rhy and witnessing the spell when Kell linked his life to Rhy's.

Their first official meeting was, however, a few days after he died, he was lying in bed hurt but was of course up to flirting with her. Lila gave some smart comments which Rhy answered with "I like this one" to Kell.

In "A gathering of shadows" they meet more and even have some conversations without Kell regarding their shared worry for him. In the end, they both ran together all over the palace looking for Kell when he was kidnapped by Ojlka.

Lila saw Alucard Emery's ship and wanted to steal it and kill its captain but after replacing the thief aboard she became quite smitten by Alucard Emery and rather become somewhat of a friend with him.

After Alucard discovered she knew only English, the royal language in Red London but no other language he offered to help her learn Arnesian, the official language in Red London. Alucard also taught her how to find her magic all because he missed speaking High Royal (English) with someone.

Alucard did kiss her once on the way to London but that was only to lure the secrets out of her, but he apologizes and though she still bullies him about it they become kind of friends again.

Lila met Calla when she was going to a masquerade ball at the palace, this was where she found the devil mask. Calla was surprised but not judging when Lila rather wanted to use a male suit rather than a dress. Calla had seen her before with Kell and therefore said Lila could come back with the money when she had it, and when Lila did come back after about 4 or 5 months; Calla told her that Kell had come many times to see if Lila had come back and paid Calla (Kell and Lila had separated).

The next time Lila came looking for something she asked for a dress and a fix on her mask so she could compete in the Essen Tasch. Calla basically is the biggest shipper of Kell and Lila.

Skills and abilities

  • Magic: As an Antari, Lila is one of the most powerful magicians to exist. Albeit, at first, she had troubles with summoning and controlling the elements. She would often push herself too hard, not knowing the exact extent and boundaries of her own power, risking her health and getting heavy nosebleeds. Still, even before Lila learned how to properly control her magic, she was capable of creating incinerating firewalls as well as over-powering Kell during the Essen Tasch.
  • Knife fighting: Lila is very adept at fighting with knives and always carries multiple knives with her.


  • Caster: A Collier[5] flintlock revolver Lila stole.
  • Devil mask: A black devil mask she fell in love with in Calla's shop.
  • Element set: A "game" for practicing magic, given to her by Kell Maresh.
  • Knuckle knife: Lila's favorite knife which can be used for both stabbing and hitting. She stole it from Aldus Fletcher's pawnshop.
  • Lila's pirate cypher: A map Lila stole from a shop when she was fifteen years old. Even though she obtained it in Grey London, she later finds out that the map is originally from Red London.
  • Shard of Astrid Dane: A piece Lila took from Astrid Dane after she was turned into a statue by Kell and shattered. She keeps it as a reminder of the fight and what she can do.
  • Top hat: A hat she stole from a dozing chauffeur.
  • White rook: A white rook Lila took from Aldus Fletcher to travel to White London.

  • Silver pocket watch: A watch Lila took from a gentleman in a collision. The initials, L.L.E, are engraved on the back. It is later given to Maris Patrol.
  • Twin knives: A knife which separates in two if a hidden notch is pressed.[6] Lila received it from Lenos when he lost a bet to her.[7] During the final fight against Osaron, he dissolved the twin knives.

  • Appearances


    See more here


    • Lila is genderfluid[9] "to the extent that someone in 1819 would intuitively be."[10][11]
    • Lila leans toward men, but is primarily attracted to power[12] and conviction.[13]

    Out of Universe

    • Lila's past may be revealed in the future.[14]
    • One of the things that ties Kell and Lila's fates together are the poems of William Blake: Kell stored a book of Blake's poems in the Ruby Fields, and Lila's mother read his poems to her.[15]
    • Lila was not based on anyone. Instead, Lila embodies certain aspects of Schwab she wishes she would do differently.[16][17][11]
      • Schwab also said that, out of her Shades of Magic characters, she would like to step into Lila's role the most.[18]
    • In an interview, Schwab mentioned that "Lila is not a sidekick, she's the hero of her own story. She's not a love interest, and she's not a plot device. Her purpose isn't just to please the reader or Kell, it's to be true to herself, and that self happens to be a total self-serving badass."[19]
    • Lila is one of Schwab's favorite characters to write.[20]
    • The outfit Lila receives from Calla for the masquerade ball in A Darker Shade of Magic is V. E. Schwab's "dream ensemble."[21]
    • Lila's mantra/motto is "If a thing is worth having, it's worth taking."[22]
    • Despite claiming not to like animals, Lila would most likely feed some in secret.[23]
    • Lila's favorite "tea" would be bourbon.[24]
      • Lila's Starbucks order would be a triple espresso.[25] She would also be banned from the establishment.[26]
    • If Lila had to live through lockdown with Kell, Rhy, Alucard, and Holland, she would kill them all.[27]
    • Lila's girl crush from another series would be Inej Ghafa from the Grishaverse.[28]
    • In Vengeful, at a costume party, someone is dressed as Lila[29] and is making out with someone dressed as Kell.[30]

  • Her name is not pronounced "Leela" but "LIE-la."[31][32][33] Only Calla calls her "Leela."[34]
  • The name "Delilah" (דלילה) is of Hebrew origin and means "delicate, weak, languishing."[35][36] In Arabic, "Delilah" means "to flirt."[37] An Arabian variant of the name, "Dalilah", means "faithless one."[38]
    • In the Old Testament, Delilah is the lover of Samson. After being bribed by the chief of the Philistines, she tries to find out the source of Samson's power. Eventually, she learns that this source is his hair and subsequently cuts it, betraying him.[38]
  • The name "Lila" (लीला) means "play, amusement" in Sanskrit.[39] It can be a variant of "Leila" as well[40] which in turn is a variant of the Arabic "Layla",[41] meaning "night."[42]

  • References

    1. "Lila: Oct 23/Scorpio"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    2. "How tall are the characters?" — "Lila: 5′9″"
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    3. A Darker Shade of Magic, III: Grey Thief, II
    4. A Darker Shade of Magic, VI: Thieves Meet, III
    5. "Samuel Colt's revolver is patented to 1835, but the revolver Lila owns in ADSOM (which is set in 1819) is a flintlock, patented by Collier in 1814. While the Collier flintlock revolver wouldn't come into massive circulation until the early 20′s, it quickly became accessible to the very rich, from whom Lila liked to steal."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    6. A Gathering of Shadows, I: Thief at Sea, V
    7. A Gathering of Shadows, I: Thief at Sea, II
    8. "The whole cast of ACOL will be in it."
      (V. E. Schwab Twitter)
    9. "Actually, Lila is--or would be--genderfluid if she were a modern teen. Being historical, it's a little tricky."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    10. "[Lila] has no connection whatsoever to her gender. She's gender fluid to the extent that someone in 1819 would intuitively be."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    11. 11.0 11.1 "VENGEFUL: V.E. SCHWAB ON FEMALE ANGER & AMBITION" — Book Riot
    12. "Lila leans toward men (but is turned on by power)"
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    14. "To the readers who are mad I'm not giving you Kell and Lila's backstories, I'm holding those because this isn't where I want to use them. That doesn't mean you'll never get them."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    15. "Throughout the series there are a few things that tie Kell and Lila's fates together. This is one. In A Gathering of Shadows we learn that Lila's mother read her Blake poems, and consequently Lila uses them to help her summon and focus magic."
      (A Darker Shade of Magic — Kindle notes and highlights)
    16. "[Lila]'s is an aspirational character. She is how I wish I handled fear."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    17. "Want to be? Delilah Bard."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    18. "I would be Lila Bard. Out of all the characters in the book, she experiences - and enjoys - the most adventures."
      (translated from an interview with Tor Online)
    19. Science Fiction & Fantasy: V.E. Schwab talks A Darker Shade of Magic (site gone)
    20. "Out of all your characters, which one was your favourite to write about?" — "It's probably a tie between Victor Vale (Vicious) and Delilah Bard (ADSOM). [...] Lila's reckless spirit means that even while I'm writing her, I'm not ENTIRELY sure what she'll do."
      (V. E. Schwab on Goodreads Q&A)
    21. "Confession: the outfit Lila gets from Calla is pretty much my dream ensemble."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    22. "Sometimes that means distilling a character down into a mantra or motto (Lila Bard's is, 'If a thing is worth having, it's worth taking')"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    23. "Lila insists she doesn't love animals, but she'd probably feed them in secret."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    24. "What kinds of tea would the characters of ADSOM like?" — "Lila: Bourbon."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    25. "Lila would order a triple espresso [from Starbucks]."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    26. "Lila: BANNED"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    27. "I've found myself wondering how my characters would handle [lockdown]. [...] Authors, what you got?" — "Lila would kill them all"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    28. SCHWAB INSTASTORY Q&A (SOM-SPECIFIC) — fourlondons
    29. "Someone found the easter egg :)))"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    30. "You spotted the Shades of Magic Easter egg in VENGEFUL ;)"
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    31. "Lila is pronounced LIE-la."
      (V. E. Schwab on Twitter)
    32. "Lila is pronounced LIE-LA."
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    33. "Lila = lie-la, like Delilah without the De"
      (V. E. Schwab on Tumblr)
    34. A Gathering of Shadows, V: Royal Welcome, VI
    35. Behind the Name — Delilah
    36. Dictionary — Delilah
    37. Nameberry — Delilah
    38. 38.0 38.1 Wikipedia:Delilah
    39. Behind the Name — Lila 1
    40. Behind the Name — Lila 2
    41. Behind the Name — Leila
    42. Behind the Name — Layla


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    Red London