Release Date - February 24, 2015
Publisher Website - Tor Books/Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 400 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Kell is one of the last Traveler - rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.Magic, blood, adventure, action and consequences all combine to create a delicious journey through three different and distinct Londons. If Victoria Schwab is not already on your auto-buy author list this complex, page turning read will have you obsessively pre-order anything she releases next.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive - trickier than they hoped.
Creating rules and confines for any world, or magical system you create is vital. An author who recognizes this and stays within these boundaries while pushing them creates a nuanced, and believable world. Victoria Schwab plays with her world and it's rules in a very logical, thought out manner. Anything that happens has reasons and forethought behind it. Nothing is without merit, consequences or reasoning. Nothing happens strictly to advance the plot so nothing feels out of place or convenient.
In a novel steeped in magic, it is perhaps the characters who are the most magical components of this rich, layered tale. The characters are as rich and complex as the world they inhabit. Victoria balances the wonder and magic of their surrounding with satisfying character development. They manage to compliment each other rather than one taking over the story from the other. This creates a highly engrossing and satisfying experience that will only leave you wanting more.
Our choices define us and we pay for them with the consequences of those choices. Each of the characters, but Kell in particular, struggles with the fallout of his choices. In a setting where worlds are layered on top of one another, these choices send ripples throughout all of them. The biggest theme of the novel is cause and effect and Victoria uses all elements to weave this together.
Magic becomes a character in it's own right. The different Londons even represent the various relationships magic can have with those who use it. Black London is the addicts who have burned themselves out. White London is the brutal, sadistic side of magic. Red London is the more frivolous, fun side of magic. Grey London represents those who have forgotten it's existence. Each of these worlds has it's own rules, truths, and laws. They are as complex as the magic that flows through them all. Victoria adeptly balances all of this, along with the cast of unique, engaging characters which is no easy task to to, and to do well.
Those who despair cliffhanger endings or novels within a series that do not feel as if they stand on their own will be happy to hear that this feels like a complete story within one novel. You want more of this world, these characters and there is so much potential for where this story could go, but it feels complete. The story within these pages is a full, complete story with a beginning, middle and ending all it's own. It was a refreshing, welcome change from the usual. This novel excels at the unique however, so it is not surprising.
Victoria Schwab proves herself adeptly capable at moving in between writing young adult, adult and middle grade as well as writing various genres. This novel offers up a spellbinding, magical journey filled with brutal kings, a bad ass pirate in the making, a mesmerizing prince, and a charming protagonist. It'll leave you desperate for the sequel and for more magical adventures...wherever they may take you.