Book Discussion: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Week 8)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Welcome to the A Darker Shade of Magic book discussion! We are going to have a blast reading along together. Each week, following the schedule, my friend Jackie and I will recap that particular week’s chapters with hilarious commentary. At the end of each discussion post, there will be a few questions to get the party started. These questions serve as food for thought. All comments related to the book and this week’s chapters are always welcome! Remember: I am giving away a copy of the paperback edition of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (for extra entries, comment below)! Now, let’s get this party started!

This week, we'll be discussing Part 9, Chapter 1 to 4. To depict our thoughts in the most coherent way possible (after all, this is a dialogue between friends), my font color will stay black and Jackie's color will be red.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead! This post discusses this week’s chapters of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. If you do not want to be spoiled on what happens in the book, don’t read any further.

Part 9: Chapter 1

Jeanna: We are back in Red London. It’s a gorgeous day, isn’t it? It’s like nothing has ever changed. Kell believes this to be a false sense of normalcy. After all, everything has changed. Except, at first, Lila isn’t with him. I thought the worst. She’s stuck between worlds, dead, in a million pieces. And Kell thinks of the Stone. No, but what about Lila? Kell recalls her giving him her handkerchief so he is able to track her, if she’s still alive. If he had tracked her and she was stuck between worlds, would he have gotten stuck too?

Lila thinks this whole thing is grand. If I were her, I would have stayed right where I was. Also, why did Lila and Kell separate-- it wasn’t really mentioned in the book how far away from each other they were. Why did they come out in different points? Of course, Lila decides to explore. She stumbles onto Rhy’s birthday parade. It’s all fantastic with bright colors and magic. Lila, however, is taken aback when she finds that none of the townsfolk speak much English. This dynamic is interesting, which we have discussed before. In Red London, English is only spoken by the higher ups, royalty and other noble people. This marks Lila as an outsider. 

Tv Land Speak English GIF by YoungerTV

I’m glad we got a small glimpse of Rhy in this scene. However, it doesn’t tell us much about what he’s been up to all this time. Planning his party, perhaps. He does a double take, it seems, when he catches Lila’s eye. It may because he recognizes Kell’s coat and with him missing, this is undoubtedly suspicious.

Lila is enjoying Red London, deciding to move further into the land. If Kell wasn’t using magic, he probably would have never found her again. She goes to a market where she works her mad skills in stealing something from a food stand. It’s an enchanted cart so no stealing there. Kell saves the day, sweeping in right as the conversation was getting heated. Not that we really know what was being said as the salesman spoke little English. So, yah, now they’re together and all is in order. They go on their way to the Inn where Kell keeps his collection. 

Jackie: I thought that it was strange too how Red London was all in order and seemed to be “normal,” but something is up. Anyway, I thought it was interesting how Kell was thinking about Lila and him being ‘linked’ so he could use that to find her. Thank goodness Lila had thought of giving him her handkerchief because he may not have found her again or would have had a much more difficult time finding her. 

Before Kell finds her though, Lila does go on her adventure, and as per usual is trying to explore as well as trying to steal something. Since her use of English already marks her as an outsider, when she tries to steal from the enchanted cart, this really makes her stand out. I was thinking to myself at this time, Lila...

If she could have just lasted like two more minutes until Kell found her then she wouldn’t be in trouble. Five minutes alone and she is already stealing things or attempting to without checking to see if they are enchanted persons or objects! I mean, hello, Lila, you are in Red London now where magic is more potent and omnipresent, you have to be more careful miss pirate! 

Jeanna: If only. She should have waited. I get it. She’s a pirate. When the moment calls, you got to answer it-- it’s stealing time. Though it is a dumb move on her part. She knows Kell has money. That’s why she stole from him in the first place. If she had waited, they could have enjoyed a lovely meal- real tourist style since this is her first time being there and all. Imagine Kell as a tour guide.

Pirates Of The Carribean Elizabeth GIF

Though, she probably wouldn’t have accepted Kell’s money. It’s interesting to me that she would fall back on her thieving ways when she had the Stone in her possession. She could have just willed a piece of coin into her life. It would have made things much easier. 

Also, the salesman is able to call a guard over but Kell arrives just in time to take Lila away before they’re both caught. Is he running away for good reason or is he being paranoid? I think it’s highly unlikely the guards would use force in making Kell return to the palace. Since multiple people have seen him in the area, isn’t that enough to let the royals know that he’s home. It doesn’t seem that they’re looking for him anyway. I mean, they’re having Rhy’s party without him! Why?

Jackie: Yes, it’s intriguing that Lila doesn’t use the Stone to see her way out of getting caught stealing, but maybe it’s just because she’s more in tune with her stealing abilities than using magic, even if it is free magic use. 

I think Kell just doesn’t want to be taken in by the guards whether they know he is in the area or not. I mean even Rhy was staring right at Lila, presumably because she was wearing Kell’s jacket, but he doesn’t make any visible commands to go get Kell (or who he thinks is Kell). So, that’s odd to me that he wouldn’t have the guards get Kell after he sees Kell’s jacket, signaling that Kell has returned home. That is HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS. As is the guards’ behavior and others’ behaviors for not getting Kell back to the castle ASAP, this whole thing in Red London is just weird. Something is off. 

Jeanna: I agree with you that something is definitely off. However, I thought Rhy’s reaction to seeing Kell’s coat was reasonable. Rhy cares a lot about his reputation. Kell even mentions that Rhy adores the attention of his people. If Rhy had caused a scene here, it would potentially hurt his image. He can’t just stand up in a moving carriage and scream out into the crowd at a woman who may or may not be wearing his friend’s jacket. If he were to have brought attention to her, or even called the guards on her, with this assumption, it marks her as the victim. The people would most likely side with her until they knew all the facts. Or they may have started a riot, depending on who believed the prince for making such an uncalled-for assumption without testing it out. Instead, he turns away and goes back to being the loveable guy we know him as. However, I don’t think he will forget about her. And as soon as the carriage ride is over, I’m sure he is telling his guards, in private, that they need to look for a girl wearing Kell’s coat.

Jessica Jones Reputation GIF

Also, just imagine his thoughts. Kell hasn’t returned home and here he finds a woman wearing his coat. What would you even think at that? How did she get it? And above all, what happened to Kell?

And since everything seems so off, who is in on this plan? Does Rhy know something about what happened in White London? (Is he maybe trying to teach Kell a lesson about dealing in the Black Market?)

Jackie: True, true. But I’m thinking that Rhy knows more than he lets on either way. I have a feeling that when Rhy and Kell meet up again that it may not be as it once was. Not just because of this encounter, but I just can’t shake the feeling of that gift of strength that Holland gave him. It must be coming into play and soon, and I don’t believe that it will make Rhy and Kell’s relationship easier or leave it where it once was. 

Anyway, I have a feeling that Rhy is in on something that has happened to Kell recently, whether it be the White London incident or Kell’s run ins with Holland, I just can’t shake the feeling that Rhy and Holland are working together on something against Kell. I guess we will have to see what is going on once Rhy and Kell meet up again. 

Part 9: Chapter 2

Jeanna: We now interrupt Kell and Lila to bring you a character introduction. Meet Aldus Fletcher, he works in a pawn shop. He’s a very interesting character. For such a short chapter, V.E. Schwab is able to put a lot of information in there. We know there’s bound marks all over his arms. This is the first time we see a part of Red London’s law system. In White London, that binding spell seems to happen a lot. In Red London, Aldus was bound, his magic stripped from him, after using his power to control another. However, he has a secret. Somehow, he was able to get the bound marks reversed, thus giving his magic back. I’m sure if the royal family ever found out, it would mean certain death. 

Besides Aldus having an interesting backstory that I would love to know more about, he also has something of Kell’s. A white rook. The farther we get into A Darker Shade of Magic, the more it seems to revolve around simple items. That’s very interesting, how Schwab is able to move the story along with just a mention of an item that you wouldn’t, otherwise, think would be significant. Primarily, the Stone which is literally just a stone has become a huge deal. However, the items from the beginning: coins, Lila’s watch, a music box, and now a simple chess piece.  

Jackie: I was intrigued by this character Fletcher since he is introduced well into the middle of our adventure, and since he has these binding marks that are all broken, so he is a free man. I didn’t know that binding magic could be undone in Schwab’s magical universe until now, which opens up a lot of questions about how perhaps, the White London rulers magic may be able to be undone. 

Anyway, I’m sure any person with undone bindings would be sure to be punished by the Red London rulers. Maybe, unless they had a certain request that only Fletcher could fulfill, maybe then his bindings could be undone. 

Disney Pixar GIF

Yes, I think it’s interesting too that Schwab seems to create a complex story around what seem like simple encounters, trinkets, and people. But, when combined altogether, these pieces of the story weave together into an intricate journey not only about Kell, but about the magic and people that he is surrounded by, the good and the bad. I have a feeling that if Fletcher sees Kell again that he will be part of “the bad” category, and I’m not quite sure Kell will want to run into someone who is knowledgeable or witty enough to get out of a binding spell...I mean if you can undo multiple binding spells put upon you and you can control others, what can’t you do? 

Jeanna: Wait! Does this mean there’s still hope for Holland? Could he get out of his binding spell with the White London rulers? Not that I would feel any safer if he was free or not but if Aldus could be free, I’m sure Holland could undergo the same.

I don’t know about Kell. What I do want to know was did the gambling match between the two happen before or after Aldus was bound? And with Kell being an Antari and all, I don’t think he has much to fear from Aldus, unbound or not. 

Part 9: Chapter 3

Kell and Lila are trekking their way to the Inn where Kell keeps his secret collection room. Lila is particular seething but hasn’t said much of anything to Kell about her thoughts. Until, of course, she has to share since it seems Kell’s searching for guards everywhere. Lila has a right to know what she has just walked into. However, to be fair to Kell, she wanted to come without much explanation. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park. They are going to throw that One Ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom. One does not simply walk into Mordor.

Lord Of The Rings One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor GIF

Kell explains that the royal family owns him. Like a possession. This is spot on to what we expected in the beginning of the novel, of his thoughts on his home situation. Lila translates this as him being the prince. But also, him having a home, having food to eat and shelter. And she had lots of good points here.

Also, one of our many questions have been answered: Kell is in fact planning on leaving her in Red London. His plan is to what? Have her follow him until he finds an opening to disappear?

After walking through the streets of London, they finally come upon the Inn which has been burned to the ground. And all I could think of was his music box collection. Do you know how many years that must have taken Kell to collect? 

Jackie: I see what you did there, friend 😊. I believe that Lila has the right to know what she is walking in to since Kell is currently in paranoia mode, watching for guards. 

I believe that Kell does see himself as a possession of the royal family but I believe that at times, he wants to be more. The way he describes the relationship he has with them is like Lila is saying, at least what the royal family has shown him and done for him is more than you’d treat a possession. I think the character that exhibits the more behavior of being a possession is Holland. He is the textbook definition of a possession since the White London rulers do not show love or affection toward him, but they just want him to fulfill their orders. I believe that the Red London rulers see Kell as a possession, and that Kell sees himself as one too, as shown by his choice of words with Lila, but hey, at least he is not soul bonded to them, which I believe warrants the title of a possession more than anything. 

I’m glad to see that Kell does want to leave Lila in Red London, it’s too risky to bring her with him to Black London, and she wouldn’t have a way back. But, I’m not sure he’d come back to check on her, maybe he is just giving her this opportunity to start over in Red London and make more for herself than Grey London could offer. 

Well once we found out that the Inn was burned down, I was thinking, since we saw a glimpse of what Holland did to Barron in Grey London, does this mean that that tavern is also burnt down since the tavern in each London is a fixed point? Or does Holland have to burn down each individual one in each London? 

I know that we saw Holland attempt to kill/kill Barron, but we were never told if he did burn down the tavern, but if he did, would this one and the others have burned down as well? 

Jeanna: I’m glad that in some sense, Kell is leaving her in Red London to potentially make her safe because he’s convinced his quest will end in his death. However, I will be sad if it comes to that since I love the two bickering and just enjoying each other’s company. It’s sad to think their time together is almost over then. And where would that leave her? We already saw that she turns right back to her thieving ways, so she’s going to have to learn some magic, a new language, and find a place to live without any money to help her out. I feel like this was such a rash decision on her part. What has she gotten herself into?

John C Reilly What GIF by Gunpowder & Sky

That’s an interesting point about the taverns. And even though, it wasn’t said, people have been known to cover their tracks by using fire (ahem, Lila). It is possible that he burned down the Stone’s Throw Tavern to hide Barron’s body and the evidence of his magic. However, the tavern in which he keeps his collection room is the Ruby Fields Inn. The taverns that are a fixed point in each London are the Stone’s Throw Tavern, the Setting Sun Tavern, and the Scorched Bone Tavern. We know that the Scorched Bone is in White London and the Stone’s Throw is in Grey London and despite not having been in the Setting Sun Tavern (I don’t think we have), it must be in Red London. But I do really like that idea and I hope we get some answers to why these places are different than the rest. What makes them so special? 

Jackie: I would hope that Lila would come back after Kell comes back from Black London, but who knows? Kell has a lot of other pieces on his plate and eventually needs to return to the Red London rulers, or continue to protect them from afar, which I’m not sure whether or not he’d keep Lila around with all that going on. 

That’s true about the taverns, and I wish we would find out how they are linked. I’m starting to feel majorly deprived from our questions not being answered, and it’s getting harder to not read on in the book each week to see if I can find out any more information about the taverns, Kell, Lila, the White and Red London rulers, and just every other piece of the questions we have. It’s a first world problem, but still a problem nonetheless.

Jeanna: Oh, no. Don’t read ahead! I want to know so bad though too. However, I don’t think Schwab is going to answer most of our questions. This is book one in a trilogy and what if she were to leave all our questions out there ‘til the last book? That would be too cruel. 

Part 9: Chapter 4

The Inn has been burned to the ground. And this, my friends, was no ordinary fire. No need to guess who did it as it quickly becomes clear who when he shows his face two seconds later. Kell was able to think on his toes and by using the Stone, hides both himself and Lila- making them entirely invisible. 

Holland is making a call, using some sort of crystal. Who is he talking to? He lets them know that Kell is, indeed, in the area. Could it be the White London rulers? Or maybe even Rhy?

Holland is able to sense Kell using the Stone and calls him out on it. He also knows that Lila is with him which I thought was very strange, considering humans can’t travel between Londons so how could he assume that was even possible, or that she survived the trip? Holland knows something. He tries to oust them both by making it rain ash which is such a White London magic trick, it’s hilarious. It probably would have worked too if the Stone wasn’t so powerful.

Instead, Holland digs at their emotions but Kell stays strong. All Lila wanted to do was get out there and punch Holland in the face after he announced he killed Barron, showing the pocket watch as proof (there’s that pocket watch again). And there’s blood on the pocket watch. Oh my, is Barron really dead? I don’t want it to be true!

Danny Devito No GIF

This is such a powerful scene here. Lila bursts out into tears. I don’t think she often speaks with her emotions. It lets readers know how deeply she must have cared for Barron and how terribly upset she feels about his death. As soon as Holland gives up on them, for now, and leaves, Lila runs toward the pocket watch and just weeps over it. Clearly, it is not a smart move as Holland could have come back at this point and been like, “Got you. I wasn’t really gone.” It’s a good thing he doesn’t.

This does put Kell in possession of the Stone. He now has what he wants to make his escape, to put his plan into motion as far as leaving Lila behind and going off with the Stone on his own. Their next move is to go see Aldus who has an item, the white rook, that will get Kell to White London, since you need something from the place you are traveling to in order to create a door.

Jackie: I’m not sure who Holland was calling, but it sounded secretive and important, I guess we will find out who it was eventually. 

I hope Barron isn’t really dead, but once he pulled out the pocket watch with blood on it, it seems like Barron may not be with us anymore…
I felt for Lila since the readers can see and connect with Lila on the connection and relationship she had with Barron. That was the only other person really to care about or have some influence/aid in Lila’s life, it seems, besides Kell. 

By the way, even though Holland was the bad guy in this case, bravo to him for burning down the tavern which held the only tokens that Kell had to move throughout the Londons. Holland is smart and sly, so we will have to see if Kell is able to go to his not-friend, Fletcher, to see if he can get the white rook token to travel to White London, then off to Black London by using the Stone, I presume. 

Just as a side note, I wonder if Holland knows about the bad relationship between Kell and Fletcher and used this as additional motivation to burn down the tavern. If Holland knew, then that was a brilliant move since now Kell has to go up to someone who he humiliated in the past because of his arrogance and ignorance in his youth. If that’s the case, then well-done, Holland; Kell’s got his work cut out for him!

Cue the Imperial March for Holland’s beautiful work!

Jeanna: Kell cares about Lila?! Do I hear wedding bells? No, but all in all this ship is sailing nicely so far. Until, you know, Kell decides to abandon her to travel to White London by himself.

I wasn’t even thinking about Holland’s plan but he really thought of everything. However, how did he know about his collection room? The only person who may have known about the room was Rhy since Rhy was the only person to know about him trading on the Black Market. Now, I was thinking- Holland calls on that crystal and tells whoever on the other line, “He is in the city.” Now, if I was in White London (like the rulers are) and heard that sentence, I would think Holland meant that Kell is in White London, that city. So, I’m guessing that whoever was on the other line may be in the same city as both Holland and Kell presently (Red London). The only hiccup is that he says the words in his “native tongue,” so whoever is on the other line should know Holland’s native tongue. In this sense, Rhy probably does not know Holland’s language (or maybe he knows many languages, I don’t know). Though, I do think whoever Holland’s speaking to there is in the same city.

And if Holland knows as far as Fletcher, will he be waiting there too, having already killed him and burned that place to the ground too?

Jackie: Yeah, I’m wondering about these characters and their knowledge of the other characters too. Holland could already be in the know about Fletcher, so this plan could be a bust from this moment on. And I agree with you about the person Holland is talking to as well. I think they speak his tongue and are in the city as well. SO MANY QUESTIONS, SO LITTLE ANSWERS!

Jeanna: Let’s hope we learn a little more, get some more answers in the next section we read. And no reading ahead :)

This concludes this week's chapters of the discussion. What did you think?

  • Why would the royal family continue with Rhy’s party if Kell was missing? Wouldn’t they have waited for him?
  • Since Kell’s coat was in the gambling lot, had it once belonged to Aldus?
  • Fletcher tells the boy that he has been unbound by undoing the magic that once bound him to a certain person or persons, so what are the specific requirements to unbind magic spells?

You Might Also Like