Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians 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.
There has been so much hype around this series, so much so that I have been a bit intimidated to pick it up. Schwab has easily become one of my favorite authors and I always expect to love her writing, but there's always a worry in the back of my mind that asks, What if this is the one I don't like? Fortunately, I loved this book so much.
This past year I have not picked up a lot of fantasy novels because I wanted to read more diverse books, and unfortunately fantasy isn't very diverse. So when I picked up this book I felt a little rusty, which may have affected my first impressions of the story. It was a bit hard for me to get into the story, I think I was just a little confused because there are so many versions of London and I was trying to keep up. I think I got a bit in my head about it and got stressed because as I pushed through it got easier to get a hang of this different world.
The writing, as always with Schwab, was beautiful and haunting. I am always going to be in love with her writing style. I want to live in her writing forever. So this definitely did not disappoint. I also really love our main characters. Kell and Lila. I liked their friendship and their quick bond. Kell has easily become one of my favorite characters I've read in 2017. Now I know why everyone's always raving about him. He's brave, sweet, sometimes so stupid, but overall a good person. I love Lila's feisty attitude. I like that she has no problem doing what she needs to do to survive, but she has enough of a moral compass to not cross any lines. I do hope we get more about Rhy, because I don't think we got enough of him. I want to see more of his brother-y relationship with Kell, but also I think his personality mixed with Lila's will make for funny dialogue.
I was genuinely shocked at moments in the story. I gasped, and at once part I audibly said "No, no, no!" where my fiancé hurried into the room thinking something had actually gone wrong, and then rolled his eyes when he realized I was just reading. So this book definitely pulled at my emotions, good and bad. I was sad, shocked, giddy, frozen. I think this a result of the beautiful writing and amazing storytelling. This story was super unique and I think it definitely had me interested in the world. Schwab does an amazing job at world building, and I felt really satisfied with that. It felt sometimes a little info-dumpy but I always expect that with the first of a fantasy series. Especially one with such a unique world. I cannot wait to get back into this story.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. I am mad it took me so long to finally read it but I cannot wait to continue with the series.