This is a series and I have read the first two, so for the sake of ease I will review them both in the same section.
Most people only know one London, in this book there are four and Kell who is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons – goes between them as a messenger.
There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to a girl who is scrapping a living together by thieving but who dreams of being the captain of her own pirate ship and ruled by the mad king George III.
There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered and people live under the watchful eyes of the Red King and Queen.
Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne; in this book the evil twins.
But once upon a time, there was Black London… so powerful and deadly that is has been sealed off and not even Kell and Holland, the other Traveler can go there. They are the most powerful magicians left and each has a grudge with the other.
Kell is owned/ adopted by the King and Queen of Red London and is brother to Rhy, a self absorbed prince who always gets his own way. Kell’s two main jobs are to take letters to the rulers of the other Londons and look after Rhy. He is also not allowed to take anything between the worlds, a rule he often breaks. White London is ruled by a sadistic pair of twins who are controlling Holland, who is also their messenger and just as powerful in magic as Kell.
When Kell collides with Lila Bard in Grey London and Rhy is given a gift by Holland, all hell breaks lose. The first book introduces all the main characters and, at some points I was on the edge of my seat because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. Kell and Lila are likeable characters and the sadistic twins in White London made me wince. The elements are also really interesting, and how magic controls each one.
The second book leads directly on from the first so it would be good to read them back to back (I didn’t and I forgot some of the key things that happened!) and is a little reminiscent of the Hunger Games. Red London is hosting the Elemental Games where competitors from all the other lands can compete by showing off their magical skills.
Lila is off on her travels and meets Alucard Emery; who has a connection to the royal family and one in particular which I wasn’t expecting! They are called back to London for the games and Lila reconnects with Kell. The plot has some great twists and Kell and Lila (and their relationship) grows a little more. A character that you think has gone also makes a surprising reappearance with devastating consequences.
Get in to this series, it’s excellent. The author’s knowledge of London is amazing considering she is American, some of the language let’s it down because of this but in general it’s really well written. If you are a fan of fantasy fiction that is a little less soppy then some of the others then this is for you, and by you I mean you Jodie Lee!
Further Reading: The Peter Grant Series by Ben Aaronovitch – these books are fantastic, if a little wacky. The first one is called Rivers of London.
Further further Reading: Department 19 Series by Will Hill – also fantastic (see review of Dept 19 and a review of The Rising to come)