Book Discussion: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Week 9)

Thursday, April 26, 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 10, Chapter 1 to 5. 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 10: Chapter 1

Jeanna: New part, new chapter, back to some characters we haven’t seen for a while. V.E. Schwab sends us back to Grey London where we see how Booth is faring. If you recall, Booth was the guy who decided that the alleyway of the Stone’s Throw Tavern was the best place to pee. It was also the place where Lila threw that lovely Stone-made sword out the window. Now we know that Stone has a mind of its own. It eventually stabbed Booth, killing Booth but using his body.

The body, which is now a vessel for the Stone, is not doing so good. It’s rotting. He’s walking along the docks and people are avoiding him like the plague, which is probably what he looks like. Since the Stone knows that the people it’s using up really have no strength in this particular London, it’s surprising that Booth has made it this far. The Stone feels drawn to the place it found Booth. They head for the Stone’s Throw Tavern. Again, with the fixed point. Everyone is drawn here. 

The Stone’s Throw Tavern is closed. Which is just horrible-- how long will it take them to get suspicious and go check on poor Barron? 

Ned has been coming each day to try and catch Kell. You were right, Jackie! Ned is back. I wasn’t sure in the beginning if we would see him again but here he is. He’s waiting and he’ll wait as long as he has to for his bag of Earth. 

Captain Jack Sparrow Fandom GIF

Just then, crossing the street toward the tavern, Booth gets hit by an apple cart and dies/turns to dust. The strange thing about this is that Ned feels a magic emanating from this pile of dust underneath the cart. Maybe Ned will turn out to be magical, after all.


I think it’s interesting the way that the vessels for the Stone, the human bodies are deteriorating overtime. It’s as if Schwab is telling us that no human body, or vessel, or anything should really have control over the Stone for long since the Stone is so powerful that it strips its host of life, like acid tearing apart a body. Almost like saying the Stone is like poison, toxic, that it should not be used at all (Kell needs to realize this before something starts happening to him). 

I hope someone gets to go and check on Barron soon too. If he is still alive, he will definitely need help from someone to stop from dying. 

Back to Ned. So, I had a big feeling that we’d be seeing Ned again. It’s interesting that Ned, a character from so long ago is the one to see the cart hitting the Booth vessel and be the one to feel magic coming from the dust under the cart.

Jeanna: I don’t think anyone should be using the Stone at all. No good could ever come of it. Lila was right to throw away that sword when she did. And it’s interesting that the Stone is looking for a stronger host and it doesn’t look like one exists in Gray London. This may be because there is no active magic in London or it’s very rare. And here we have a prospective magician, enthusiast of the magic arts, and he is the one who sees Booth die. It makes me wonder in what other ways the Stone can be absorbed into the body. Since Ned goes and touches the ashes or dust, could that be enough to become a vessel for the Stone. Is that where Ned’s future is leading? 

Also, while we are talking about the Stone and its need a stronger host, (I know we bring it up all the time but) what about Rhy’s gift of “for strength?” Did Holland intend to maybe use the Stone on Rhy? 

And can we talk about Ned for a moment? His vision of what Kell will do when they meet next is absolutely hilarious. Despite Kell being rather rude to him from the start, if I recall, I don’t even know where Ned gets this idea that Kell is going around looking for fellow magic users and taking his under his wing. Ned is so optimistic.
Jackie: Perhaps Ned will be the next one to end up a vessel of the Stone. We will have to see if that’s what the Stone wants. 

Maybe the Stone was to be used on Rhy as a vessel, that’s a good point. Maybe Holland was giving him some type of strength so that the Stone would find Rhy to be a useful host. Also, maybe Holland figured that Kell may have possession of the Stone for a bit, so if Rhy was ever made to be a vessel of the Stone, Holland would be able to detect that, and be able to find Rhy and Kell and get the Stone all in one foul swoop. 

Yeah, Ned is definitely an optimist. I wish the guy luck in that endeavor with Kell. But hey, if Ned did become a vessel for the Stone, maybe Kell would think twice about messing with Ned. 

Jeanna: I think we need a Ned spinoff. I want to know about him, why he’s so curious in magic and how he came to know about it-- he even knows incantations and things. There’s more to him than meets the eye, that’s for sure. He’s from Gray London so how did he ever learn about the other worlds and the existence of magic? And those who have magic are most likely better vessels than those who don’t since the Stone can first burn through the body’s magic before clinging violently to the body itself, maybe.

Part 10: Chapter 2

Back in Red London, Kell and Lila are moving around in their little ghost world. The Stone has once again turned them invisible. It lets them, for the moment, live in their own little world together. We get some interesting conversation out of it. And I can’t believe Kell would think of abandoning her here after all they’ve been through already. But we shall see how this plays out.

We find out that Lila is a pirate through and through. I mean, even having just gotten caught from an enchanted cart for stealing, it doesn’t stop her from trying to steal from another cart while they are invisible. Her hand goes right through it, but still. Can’t you hang on for just a moment, Lila? And we get to see the differences between her and Kell, how they feel about murder. These are great ice breakers if you are just getting to know a person. Kell believes that killing someone shouldn’t get easier, it should weigh on you each time. Lila, of course, our pirate believes that it gets easier each time she lands the final blow. These differences really stand out for me. In them, we are getting to know a part of their souls, it seems. While bantering and getting to know each other, we come across something that we have all known was coming. Missing posters, or in this case, screens are adorning the streets, offering a reward for any information on Kell’s whereabouts. Was it just me or did you also feel that jumping right into a reward was a bit much? I would think they would have announced him missing and then give it some time before providing a reward. Has it even been 2 days since he went missing?

When they reach the pawn shop, it’s closed but that’s no problem. However, even though we knew not to mess with the Stone before, we really know it now as it basically started turning Kell’s blood black, which can’t be good. What if the Stone had gotten a hold of the Antari’s power?

The biggest part of this chapter was the story of Rhy’s abduction. I know, we haven’t really gotten to spend much time with Rhy but we finally understand why he acted the way he did when Kell was giving him that magic lesson. It all makes sense. And makes me want to cry. 

Also, it makes me think that the adventure in A Darker Shade of Magic will stay in Red London. There’s two more books in the series and with the second titled, A Gathering of Shadows, it makes me wonder if the title refers to the group that kidnapped Rhy. So, maybe, Kell didn’t kill all of them? Back to having too many questions! 

Jackie: I like the idea of traveling around in their ghost world. It’s interesting and is an easy way to travel without even having to open and close doors! Imagine that!  

I can still see Kell abandoning Lila because of all they have been through. If he isn’t even at the point of going back to Black London, which he is trying to get the white rook so he can go back, I don’t imagine he’ll want Lila coming because of the impending and additional danger of what they have already faced. 

I thought the discussion that Kell and Lila had about their feelings of killing someone were interesting and sticks to their morality as characters. Kell, even when we first met him talked about revering magic for what it is and not trying to take control over it, which matches the way he feels about killing someone in the sense that you have to do so with patience and reverence for that person, no matter the reason they are being killed. Whereas Lila has a much more direct approach. I mean even earlier in the book when we were first getting to know her, she had the scene where she had to kill Powell because he was drunk and was trying to rape her as a means of “rent payment”. She is not afraid to be bold and get a bit of pleasure from the act of killing another living being, which fits the pirate persona that she wears. 

As far as the missing signs go, I think it has not been long since Kell went missing, but maybe this was out of the ordinary for a length of time he’d be gone on a mission like this one. 

Man. If the Stone now has a fraction of the Antari’s powers, then we are doomed. I mean this Stone is already super powerful, so with the Antari’s blood magic in play, this stone is like the Smash Ball in Super Smash Bros Brawl, a device used to help unleash a character’s most powerful of attacks. So, in this universe and context, the person wielding such a weapon is like permanently on Smash Ball power, which is pretty scary. 

Rhy has a powerful pull and impact on Kell, and now I’m starting to understand why. After hearing about how Kell saved Rhy from certain death, I can see why Rhy and Kell are brothers in their own way. How could you not be after something like this? 

This book in general has too many unanswered questions, I was just happy to get to know a teeny tiny bit more about Rhy and Kell’s relationship. 

This meme is the only way to describe how Jeanna and I feel at this point: 

Jeanna: That meme is certainly correct. I spend most of my time asking Schwab, “Why, why is this this way or that way?” Just why. Rather than actually reading and finding out. Actually, since the discussion causes us to pause at 30-page intervals, it’s interesting to see how much she’s going to tell us. We are almost at the 75% mark if we haven’t gotten there already and I feel like we know very little.

Living in the ghost world would be cool! Though I think walking through people would be kind of weird, at first. And it’s weird that Lila is taking all of this magic in stride. Like, yeah, I was used to this ten minutes ago. How is she so cool and not freaked out at this point?

I see your point about Kell abandoning Lila. He is going to do it for her safety. However, I’m so set for them to have an adventure together (I mean they are currently having a great adventure but I’m talking about one that spans several Londons). And it’s sad to even think that Kell will leave her behind for her safety. Like him, I really don’t think he can accomplish this alone. Even Frodo wouldn’t have made it if Samwise wasn’t there when taking the One Ring to Mordor.

Frodo GIF

About the Stone having the Antari’s powers, maybe the Stone already does. The more we find out about the Stone, the more invincible it becomes. Kell believes that in magic, there’s a balance. Well, even if the Stone itself is power, is magic. There should still be magic between its user and the element itself, right? So, when Kell is using the Stone, the Stone is giving its power up to use but also taking some of his, which is why he feels empty after using it. He feels drained because the Stone has given him the Stone’s power for a bit but has also taken something in return. Maybe. 

Jackie: Yeah, Schwab hasn’t told us like’s getting slightly annoying…

I think Lila is good at embracing the weird and odd things in life because she, herself, is weird and odd, so I think that’s maybe why she can accept all of this magic stuff so quickly and somewhat easily. 

Nice reference, well done!  Yes, I think Kell will have a bit of difficulty getting done what he needs to with this Stone on his own, but I really do not know how he will ever get Lila home or at least back to Red London without the Stone. I mean, would he rather leave her stuck there, with no more adventures to go on with her because she would be left in Black London to die, or would he rather leave her behind for this adventure, but come back to her after this Stone is all squared away? I would think the latter for Kell since he seems to enjoy her company.

Maybe Lila will get to see 50 Shades of Kell’s Pockets…

Fascinating Leonard Nimoy GIF

That’s a good point about the Stone, I guess the give and take from the Stone is the magic you use from it is the energy drained from the user, that makes sense based on how strong it seems to be thus far. 

Jeanna: Without the Stone, Lila would most likely be stuck in Black London. That would be awful and, of course, Kell would feel responsible. I see why Kell has to leave her in Red London. It’s just, I’m hoping they find a way around it. 

And what do you think about the sequel’s title, A Gathering of Shadows? Do you think there’s a connection from the group that kidnapped Rhy when they were in their teens to whatever may happen in the sequel?

Jackie: I’m thinking that for the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, that this may have to do with the group that kidnapped Rhy when Kell and him were teenagers. I’m also thinking that maybe this will have to do with some type of army that maybe White London is creating. Since the title has a reference to multiple shadows, maybe White London will be trying to find a way to rule over all of the available London’s in the sequel. I could totally see the White London twins doing something like that and having Holland, and if they gain possession of it, the Stone to control and make their army full of Shadows, or human vessels of magic.

Jeanna: Oh, maybe. That’s interesting. I was thinking that the group that kidnapped Rhy was Red London based but it could have sprung about from something Holland may have started. White London could be behind this all. Maybe their main goal here is to become the only remaining London, to kill off all their neighbors, literally.

Part 10: Chapter 3

In the meantime, Schwab throws us a short chapter from a character we haven’t seen in a while. Remember the guy that Kell turned into a block of ice and the ice melted quite some time ago. He’s around and has been absorbed by the Stone. He’s in Red London which includes much more stronger vessels on the magic scale. He’s also infecting people with the Stone’s magic which isn’t good. It sounds like a zombie apocalypse of magical proportions. And it can only mean one thing. A war is coming. 

How are people not noticing others turning zombie-like? Isn’t this an epidemic at this point?

Jackie: Oh nothing like a good, old-fashioned, magical zombie apocalypse. 

I have no idea how there’s no one who notices how this magical Stone has taken over a few human vessels by now. Like, seriously? How has no one seen this coming or seen these empty vessels of human shells walking around? 

I’m wondering if the Stone wants control of the humans and control over the London locations. Maybe it’s trying to build an army out of the view of the Antari so by the time Kell or Holland notice, it’s already too late to stop them? 

Jeanna: Since the Stone was in White London, before Kell took it, you’d think that Holland was ordered to bring the Stone back to his rulers. I mean, wasn’t that the main goal in the beginning when he beat up Kell? Holland needs to return the Stone to White London. Kell won’t give it to him, instead insisting that it return to its origin in Black London. All in all, what if Holland’s efforts in taking the Stone back was to stop this from happening? What if White London was trying to rescue the artifact that infected the whole of Black London, to stop history repeating itself? Though now that I think about it, it sounds rather optimistic. Like, White London is not that nice. We don’t really know what the twin rulers think about the other Londons. If only, we were told what were in those letters at the beginning! 

And people of Red London, they are filled with magic so if Ned from Gray London could feel the magic coming from Booth-dust then why aren’t Red London getting some magic stench from the Stone infecting people? You’d think it is starting to smell. And not like flowers anymore. 

Lizzy Caplan Smell GIF

Jackie: I think that White London isn’t thinking of how they can prevent history from repeating itself. I think they just want the Stone for their own use and power in the end. Maybe Holland can use it to help with this soul bond he has with the White London twins. But yeah, all in all I think White London is just into the magical power behind the Stone, not trying to act like heroes or prevent anything from happening like what happened in Black London. If anything, if White London gets the Stone, then it will become another Black London. 

Yeah, you’d think that if Ned can feel the magic coming from just the remains of Booth, then how can anyone in Red London not have a feeling or sense that something not right is going on? I mean someone has to be noticing by now.

Jeanna: Maybe the whole of Red London is already drunk at Rhy’s party to notice the apocalypse outside their door. 

Holland may not know the full of the Stone’s power. So, I don’t know if he would want it for his own gain. However, I can see White London using it just for power. It’s interesting that they haven’t used the Stone thus far, it’s been in their possession all this time and only when it’s gone, they notice the Stone’s missing.

Part 10: Chapter 4

Kell and Lila are at the pawn shop in Red London in search of an element of White London, a white rook. They haven’t had much luck in finding it though. And Lila gets distracted by the many trinkets and maps.

Out of nowhere, it seems, Fletcher shows up. Where did he even come from? He wasn’t too pleased to find Kell and Lila snooping around his things. And when he found what they were after, he seemed even less pleased. Kell offered to pay for the piece but Fletcher would rather make Lila pay, which was just rude. Ugh, not again. Another Powell. 

Also, Fletcher uses his bone magic here which I thought strange. Wasn’t he magic bound? We know that he went to the ends of the earth to get the bound spell reversed but Kell doesn’t know that, does he? So, Fletcher shouldn’t be using his magic, right? Did he just out himself to everyone in the room?

While being so rude, Fletcher had time to sell Kell out and report him. He pressed the Missing announcement without Lila and Kell even noticing until it’s too late. It doesn’t take long for the guards to come barging in.

Jackie: Yeah, the men in these books are kinda rude about the whole you-can-pay-with-your-body thing, it’s just gross frankly. 

From what I’ve read about Fletcher and what Kell revealed in their encounter with him in this chapter, I’m not sure if Kell knows Fletcher is supposed to be magic bound or not. Kell does not mention it, and neither does Fletcher for the obvious reason of being caught. Along with this, I’m imagining Fletcher was supposed to be magic bound, but broke the bond again at some point before having Kell enter his shop, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to perform his bone magic. 

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Kell and Lila once the guards arrive, but it’s not going to be pretty either way. 

I wish our world worked like that with missing signs though. Like if you had a hunch, or found the lost person, you just hit a button on the missing poster, and voila, the guards/policemen come ‘a running!

Jeanna: And that was awfully a fast time span from the time he had pressed the button to the time the guards came in. Almost like magic. Or like they were right at the door the whole time. Suspicious, maybe?

That’s a good point that Kell might not even know about Fletcher’s sentence of being magic bound. That would also explain why Kell would be seen with Fletcher playing cards those few years ago, though that could have been before his sentencing took place. However, I feel that Fletcher has always been a somewhat shady character which made me question why Kell would play cards with people like this when he could have played cards with any number of the guards in the palace.  

In this scene, I think Fletcher is taking that card game from years ago very personally. That may be the main motivation, besides the reward, to press the button. He lost a lot and what does he really need with a chess piece that Kell gave out of charity since he lost so badly. Fletcher has every right to keep the chess piece since, as much as he didn’t win it in the game, it was given to him as a gift and he shouldn’t need to give it back. It’s interesting that, as we have found from when we were first introduced to Fletcher, he keeps the rook close by as if it means a lot to him. Why does is a chess piece so special to him? What does it really represent? All I see it symbolizing is his failure at cards. 

Romy And Micheles High School Reunion GIF

Jackie: Yes, I think Fletcher took his loss from Kell heavily in this chapter. I think this was more of his motivation for outing Kell more than the reward. 

I agree with you that Fletcher wouldn’t need to have any obligations to give back the white rook since it was a gift from Kell. Kell was being ignorant, cocky, and shortsighted when giving Fletcher the white rook, so that poor choice is on Kell, so Fletcher does not owe Kell anything.

I think, to Fletcher, the white rook represents what could have been. Fletcher had thought he won the game against Kell, but only at the last moment does Fletcher realize that Kell has won and that Fletcher has lost everything he bet against Kell. That’s a pretty hard pill to swallow. 
I’m assuming that Fletcher must have some concept of the other London’s since he gets his bonds broken, so that must require some traveling, and I’m sure he has heard about the other Londons somehow. From that, maybe Fletcher kept the white rook close thinking that one day Kell may come back and need it, and Fletcher knew he could just say no and never let Kell get what he would need most. Or, Fletcher may have just kept it to say that he took something away from that card game, even if he had lost to Kell. Sometimes when your pride is knocked out to nothing, any little gift or victory will suffice to help rebuild that lost pride.

Jeanna: Not to mention that Kell used magic to win. The card game is a game with no rules so cheating is allowed. Yet, it was a low blow since Fletcher had believed he had won until Kell just pulls out the magic card and takes everything. 

And giving him anything for losing the game was downright rude. Kell is just shoving his humiliation right in Fletcher’s face and it wasn’t right. I’m not sure if Kell regrets it but he has mentioned before that he was a bit too immature back then. 

Part 10: Chapter 5

All hats off for Lila for thinking so fast on her toes. She had taken the Stone after it had tried to take a hold of Kell and she now used it to turn invisible as soon as the guards barged into the shop. They come in and without using force, they ask Kell where’s he’s been. I thought it odd the guards didn’t interact with Fletcher much while Kell was there. Well, now, I know why. Kell uses some lame excuse that he came to the pawn shop to buy Rhy’s present and he’s only just arrived in Red London. It’s a strange story but coming from Kell, I thought they would maybe let him off the hook. However, Kell leaves with the guards, telling Lila to stay where she is until he comes back.

One of the guards stay behind to talk with Fletcher. And the next course of action, I thought, would be the exchange of the reward but instead, the guard kills Fletcher! Don’t you hate this? We get to know these characters, we have questions about them and then they just get murdered on us. This is not how it should be.


World Series No GIF by Brett Eldredge

On the plus side, Lila finds the white rook. And she’s definitely not sticking around. I wouldn’t either. There’s a dead man and if she’s caught with Fletcher’s blood seeping through her shoes, she would probably be in a bit a trouble. And she’s also not staying invisible which is smart and dumb at the same time. Dumb because Rhy saw her with Kell’s coat, so people may be looking for her too. Also, smart because the Stone is not meant to be messed with so it’s good that she doesn’t stay under its power for too long.

Kell follows those guards and there’s something fishy about them. If killing Fletcher didn’t make you wonder, kidnapping Kell sure did. 

Jackie: Kell, I would think you’d be a bit more elusive than that. 

Anyway, I guess he tried to avoid a confrontation with the guards. 


But seriously though, every time we get to know a bit more about a character they are killed off. I feel like this every time Schwab decides to kill a character: 

We had Barron, now Fletcher. Both of these characters were connected with our two protagonists, and there was so much more background we could have gotten, but now we have nada.
I think Lila should have just stayed hidden. I mean I know she doesn’t want to mess with the Stone, but she could so easily be seen by someone in Red London. Then again, with how these citizens are so oblivious to the magic zombie apocalypse, maybe she has a chance of not being seen at all even without the aid of the Stone. 


This is the ultimate cliffhanger thus far, since Jeanna and myself have vowed to not start reading the next scheduled section until after we discuss the ones prior. 

I am literally dying now. WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO KELL?

I don’t know what I am going to do, but I do know that if I don’t find out soon..

Jeanna: Wow, that last picture. 

I get you completely though. The first thing I thought after finishing this chapter, “Jackie is not going to like this.” and then, “I don’t like this.” Like, why? How did this even happen? One minute we were in the pawn shop looking for a chess piece and bantering and the next Fletcher gets murdered and Kell is taking a long nap! 

And, Schwab, I have some things to say. I mean, this is one way to answer questions. Kill off the character you have questions about so all the readers can now just cross those questions off the list because she’s not answering them now that the character is dead. WHY?

Angry GIF

I, also, thought Lila should have stayed invisible. I would have found a nice alley to chill in for a while. She can blend in to Red London for a small amount of time. However, she is no longer wearing Kell’s coat. (Which, when did that happen? All of a sudden, Kell is changing sides on his coat and when did he get it back from her?) Lila is now in her Gray London rags which are much different but with the party going on and so much festivities, I don’t think many people would notice. However, there’s the thing about Lila speaking English which is the royal language which makes it stand out, pretentious, and suspicious. So, invisible would have been the way to go I think. We shall see how that works out.

However, at the moment, I’m a bit more worried about Kell. Are these guards really guards? Are we about to learn that Rhy has been working with Holland this whole time? Or has Holland maybe forced these guards into capturing Kell for him? Or are these Shadows, the group that had kidnapped Rhy so many years ago? Something tells me that Schwab is not going to tell us for another 50 pages at least. She does that a lot.

Jackie: Jeanna, you were right, I did not like the ending of this chapter at all. Cliffhangers are the death of me, and this entire book has been full of cliffhangers and unanswered questions. 

Kell taking a nap, that’s one PG way of saying he was chloroformed. But essentially, I guess he really was taking a nap...just an extremely unexpected one…

I don’t know if I can even talk about Schwab and her killing off the characters we want to know more about. She is ruthless. She wants her readers to suffer in an eternal hell. There’s no other explanation for it. 

I’m hoping our pirate can survive for a bit until she finds Kell. I don’t know how long it will take her to want to steal something though, that would be her downfall and she’d surely be caught and brought to a jail or something like it. 

I have a feeling that these are not royal guards, or if they are they have been bribed or are under the control of a magic user, or maybe even Holland has them under his control. 


Snow White Laughing GIF

Seriously though, if Schwab holds off on telling us what is going on for like 50 pages...

Disney Pixar GIF by Disney

Im Watching You GIF

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

  • With Booth, the Stone stabbed him to be absorbed by the body. Do you think the Stone could easily be absorbed into Ned’s body without so much as an open wound?
  • How can Fletcher use his magic in front of Kell if he is supposed to be magic bound? Wouldn’t Kell find him out?
  • What repercussions do you think may come to Lila for stealing the knife from Fletcher’s shop?
  • Do you believe the Stone to act like poison? When its users are trying to let go of the Stone have difficulty, and feel like they have an empty space when not holding the Stone, perhaps the Stone could be seen as a poison? 

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