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.
I have to admit that at first I was very unimpressed with this novel. The beginning is very slow with limited action. However, this allows for perfectly executed if gradual world building, which is extremely satisfying. So while I wasn’t immediately enamoured with the characters I fell in love with their world very easily.
Kell is a strong protagonist, powerful and loyal, with an outstanding determination to see his mission through. Lila is strong willed, reckless and lacking a definite magical advantage which only made me admire her more. Sadly, I wasn’t overly invested in either of them, though together they made an impressive duo. The relationship between Lila and Kell is a lovely friendship born of their mutual need for companionship and adventure. It feels natural but at the same time it is underwhelming, with only subtle hints of romance. I enjoyed the fact that the actual plot offset the importance of the relationship between the two. There is a third character who didn’t get a lot of love in this novel but I’m hoping will be a more integral part of the next book. Rhy, Kell’s adoptive princeling brother, is quirky and arrogant and has all the potential to be an intriguing main character.
While I will admit to the beginning being slow the ending more than makes up for it. It is exciting and engaging and brings together all the elements of the novel with precision and intricacy. One of my favourite parts of this novel is the villains. I was torn between wanting to see more of them and being glad that the author didn’t choose to drag on their plot lines more than she thought necessary.
The conflict is a little too easily resolved though, which makes me very nervous for the sequel. I’m a little wary of being lulled into a false sense of security. It is probably because of this that I’m so eager to pick up the sequel. Never mind cliff-hangers tying up all of the loose ends is just as terrifying.