If intricate world building is your kind of thing, A Darker Shade of Magic is for you. Set in a kind of Victorian London, a magical Victorian London, a scary Victorian London, and a place no one talks about, there’s a world for everybody.
Kell is an Antari, one of few who can pass between London’s and adoptive son of the royal family of Red London. He serves as their emissary between the London’s, along with some under-the-table smuggling. It’s a dangerous job, especially when the rulers of White London not only have their own Antari but are looking to complete the set (not to mention, they’re insane.)
Lila Bard is a badass fingersmith who has dreams of being a pirate (if not the means) who stumbles upon Kell. And then she stumbles back upon him. And then he stumbles on her again. And finally they decide to team up because trouble is quick on their heels.
The descriptions are intense (but necessary) and the dialogue is quick, quippy, and will make you laugh out loud despite all the horrible things happening to everyone. All the time.
It seemed like a good plan, or at least, like the best of several bad ones. (page 116)