V.E. Schwab’s novel A Darker Shade of Magic is a thrilling story of magical journeys to alternate universes—there are four different versions of London, each with its own relationship to magical forces. We loved it. [Full disclosure: Schwab’s editor also worked on my own novel.] So it’s fantastic news that this book is in the pipeline as a TV show.
The Darker Shade of Magic TV show, which is being pitched as a limited series, is produced by Gerard Butler’s production company, G-BASE productions, which he runs with Alan Siegel. (You can just hear him shouting, “This. Is. Optioned!” as they sign the paperwork.) The most surprising thing about the deal? Schwab herself is writing the pilot for the TV show—this hardly ever happens, and is a major vote of confidence.
Here’s how we summarized this book in our review:
In A Darker Shade of Magic, there are four separate universes (like Fringe, sort of) and only a couple of magically gifted people can travel from one to the other. Each has its own version of London: there’s Grey London, where magic basically doesn’t exist. There’s Red London, where everybody learns to understand magic. There’s White London, where magic is a savage force and people fight to enslave it, and to rule over everyone else. And then there’s Black London, where a kind of magical apocalypse happened.
Basically, at some point in the past, Black London’s experiments with tapping the source of magic went horribly wrong, and Black London had to be sealed off from the other three worlds. The people of Red London abandoned White London, leaving White London as a kind of firebreak between them and Black London.
The book has two main characters. There’s Kell, one of the travelers who can go between the different Londons. Kell works as a royal messenger, delivering letters among the Kings and Queens of Red London, Grey London and White London, and he’s been adopted by the royal family in Red London as their own son. (And Kell does have a brotherly relationship with the heir to the throne, Prince Rhy.) But Kell also has a bad habit of smuggling items between the different Londons, to sell or trade — not just for profit, but for his own personal collection.
Meanwhile, Delilah “Lila” Bard is a pickpocket and thief, who disguises herself as a man to plunder the streets of Grey London — but she dreams of getting her own ship and becoming a sea pirate.