Fantastic, in every sense of the word.
Fantasy fiction fans will love this book. I can’t fault it: 5/5 stars.
Where to begin? Perhaps with the idea. The idea behind this book is intriguing and elegant. Schwab describes her three Londons (well, there are four, but we don’t see one of them), each in their own sealed pocket of reality, with an admirably confident and consistent logic which carries the reader between them smoothly, letting the characters take the knocks.
Then the characters. I liked Lila, and was interested by the rest of the cast, but the most important character here is Kell. Other authors give us all-powerful sorcerers, but Kell is a vulnerable magician, and it is this vulnerability that draws us to him. After all, if someone can’t be hurt, can’t shed blood, it’s hard for us to worry about them. And my goodness, does the blood flow in ADSOM. If you have an active imagination and haemophobia (that’s right, I Googled it), I’m not sure you could handle this story. For the rest of us, the gallons of blood just add to the slick sheen of the tale.
The plot is a good combination of adventure, betrayal and loss which glides along at pleasing pace.
In short: this is the first book in a long time which has kept me up reading past 2 a.m. because I did not want to put it down. Read this book. Then groan in frustration that we have to wait for the next in the series.
For those of you who want to know more about the plot…
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
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.