So V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy is about three different Londons in different dimensions, the people who travel between them, and the dangers that threaten them.


It’s actually a kind of weird trilogy, because the structure of it is really lumpy and uneven. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but the first book stands alone well; the second book feels like it could have been an entirely satisfactory standalone book except for the ending, which has nothing to do with 98% of the content of the book and what all the characters were doing, but does set up a cliffhanger that it takes the whole third book to resolve.

And so as those plots unfold, the amount to which the different Londons come into play comes and goes, and to a large extent, huge swaths of the book are just set in a fantasy London and oh btw our real-world London exists somewhere but it’s not really that important.

But look, I’m sitting here nitpicking at the structure of the series, but that’s hardly the most important thing. What’s important is that the trilogy features some great characters—protagonists, antagonists, and even little side characters are all fleshed-out and detailed people (even when we can’t entirely see that through the protagonists’ perspective at first)—engaged in a series of plots that move along briskly and are always interesting. There’s piracy, a magical tournament, interdimensional court intrigue, ancient evils, family drama, and plenty of witty repartee.

It’s a lot of fun, reasonably original, and compellingly readable. Recommended.


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