1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The setting and world-building make this story a real gem.,
This review is from: City of Shadows (Kindle Edition)Stevrin is an orphaned street urchin growing up in the gritty urban environment of Upper Lavorgna. Strevrin lives in the Divinity, a whore house operated by a contingent of independent hookers who provide a home for the city's orphan population on the quid pro quo that the orphans provide the scut work around the whore house, and are occasionally recruited into the ranks of the prostitutes. The rule at the Divinity is that the arrangement ends at 18. Stevrin is 15 and makes himself useful by running messages and doing odd jobs for the "sisters."
Lavorgna is a strange world. It has automobiles, pennicilin, telephones, machine guns, no apparent central government, mob bosses and bicycles, but it also has mad scientists who return people from the dead, often in no particularly useful condition, and who play Dr. Frankenstein with assorted dead parts. Lavorgna also has weird cults, no tectonic activity and at least one buried god who may be attempting to make a come-back.
Stevrin finds himself in the middle of the mystery of Lavorgna while attempting to help his friend Dr. Reynalt, an independent alchemist and mad Frankenstein scientist, and the whores of the Divinity, discover what is happening to their world. Why are there suddenly earthquakes in tectonically dead Lavorgna? Why are people being snatched off the streets and simply disappearing? What are the leaders of the Alchemical Guild doing with the malevolent order of Yreg-ngad, which seems to favor a cult that vivisects its members and feed them living to their god?
Mysteries abound, but this is only book one of two books, and so we have to wait for the conclusion of the second book for answers. At the close of this book, it appears that Stevrin is about to go undercover in the cult of Yreg-nad after being branded.
The book is well-written. The characters are engaging. The plot is brisk. There was one sex scene that was unnecessary in my opinion in what is, in essence a "Young Adult" ("YA") novel, albeit Stevrin is a fifteen year old growing up in a whore house. In any event, be forewarned if that kind of thing is not your cup of tea, or skip those pages, or you intend to hand the book off to your kids. Other than that one scene, the book is excellent YA fare.
The best part of City of Shadows is the world-building. The characters scatter back stories around without explanation, e.g., the "statue of the Dog-Man," St. Ulgrest and the cult of Magnar the Impaled who saved Western culture. What do these things mean? No clue really, but they are tantalizing gestures at a living world with a history that transcends this story and keeps the reader mentally engaged.
Sunday, January 27, 2013