Friday, January 11, 2013

City of Dark Magic: a review

By Magnus Flyte
2.5 / 5 Gnomes

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.
City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

~Amazon Description~

The Breakdown:

Sarah is Beethoven nerd, okay, scholar.  It just so happens that a Beethoven exhibit is being installed in a museum/palace in Prague, and with the mysterious death of her friend and mentor, she has been summoned to complete his work in organizing the historical artifacts all-things-Beethoven.  Chaos, lost of sex, and a whole slew of weirdness ensue, to say the least, leaving Sarah in a fight for her life and on a journey for the did her mentor actually die, and why is Prague so darn creepy.

The Awesome:

This part is hard when you neither love nor hate a book.  It was a fun read, but left me neither excited nor disappointed.  It just...was.

The most awesome character is a tie.  There's Pollina, the blind, sickly child prodigy who is, for some reason, a bit clairvoyant and fiercely independent.  Then there's Nico, the spunky dwarf who always knows more than he lets on and makes a wicked bodyguard.

Probably the best part of the book is the city itself, Prague.  This isn't the first book I've read that uses the city as the stomping ground for historical hauntings and secret societies (see The Book of Blood and Shadow)The city sounds genuinely disturbing; maybe it's because we don't have any cities in the U.S. that old, or maybe it's that everyone wants to kill you and talk about hell.  It has now made my list of cities to see and read in.

The Not So Awesome:

There wasn't anything that was totally not awesome either.

I didn't really like Sarah, and because I didn't really like her, I was never really rooting for her to, well, live I guess.  She's a bit of a floozy, and I know that she is a highly intelligent woman, but in the face of danger, would someone really be able to put together an entire conspiracy theory?  I could just be upset because I completely lack the powers of observation.

Oh...there is one thing that peeves me a bit.  The "author."  Why have a pseudonym?  Why not take credit for your work with your name plastered on the cover?  I'm okay with fake names if they serve a purpose for the story, like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Lemony Snicket, but to just use a fake name...not a fan.

Overall, if you like treasure hunt books with urban fantasy elements, this could be a choice.  Maybe a good beach read??

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