Disclaimer: I have legit read almost nothing but fantasy/magical novels since the beginning of 2016. It’s fun, but all of the magic is sort of running together, so please forgive me if I get anything wrong.
I think this ended up on my TBR list because of that Best of 2015 Fantasy list I saw earlier in the year, and I’m so glad it did. Though it was slow to draw me in, I eventually reached a point where I just didn’t want to stop reading. This entire novel feels like merely the start to something much bigger, though there are real stakes here, as well. I’m excited to read the next in the series when it comes out.
The facts are these: There are four Londons. (I know, just stay with me.) There’s Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Due to a magical snafu many years ago, the worlds have been split. As such, Grey London was left with no magic, Red London was left with all the good magic, White London uses their magic for evil, dirty things, and Black London is closed for business.
Kell is one of two people who can travel from London to London, having been born with way more magic than most. He does this by way of a magical coat (sure) and blood magic and spells or something, I don’t know. He’s a courier for the Red London royals, who took him in as a child for some unknown reason, but he’s also a smuggler, taking items from each London to sell (or keep). This is illegal.
He eventually meets Lila, a thief from Grey London, and the two are soon off on a magical adventure. This is all Lila’s ever wanted, having grown up poor and with no one really looking out for her. Lila is sure-footed and stubborn, quick-witted and brave. I loved her.
If I had one complaint about this novel, it’s that I just wanted MORE about the characters. I wanted to know more about both Kell and Lila’s pasts. I wanted to know more about what was going on in their heads (more show, not tell, they were often telling me what they felt but I didn’t feel it the way I wanted to you know, like an AXE TO THE HEART or some such nonsense).
Kell has an adoptive brother, Rye, who is put in great danger at one point, but I was never really that worried about his fate because I didn’t know him well enough to care. I’m hopeful, however, that there will be more about him, and his relationship with Kell (as well as Kell’s relationship to Rye’s parents) in future books.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. It feels like the beginning of a much larger story and I’m excited to read more. I also enjoyed that, while there was a hint of a blossoming romance between Kell and Lila, it wasn’t dwelt on much. They had bigger things to worry about than whether or not they wanted to touch each other in their special places.
ANYWAY. Four stars!