Thursday, January 13, 2022

Review: THE CITY OF DUSK by Tara Sim


Rating: 4/5 stars

The City of Dusk is a dark political fantasy, and I really enjoyed it. 

The story follows four rival noble heirs descended from the four gods of the four realms (light, dark, life, and death), each with a different kind of magic, all vying for the throne. But when an ancient magic that’s both forbidden and dangerous spawns and causes destruction across Nexus, AKA the City of Dusk, the four heirs must bond together to put a stop to it before Godsnight, the most powerful day of the century, when all forms of magic will be at their most potent and the gods at their strongest. 

Taesia and Dante Lastrider are shades, able to summon and control shadows. Taesia specializes in shadow manipulation and has a familiar named Umbra, while Dante, the heir, is able to form shadows into objects and has a familiar named Nox. They have a younger sister named Brailee, a dreamwalker, who has a familiar named Somnus. Their House worships Nyx, the god of Noctus (the dark realm). 

Angelica Mardova is an elementalist, but she is best at air magic. She has a unique ability to be able to play instruments like the violin or the piccolo to call upon the air to increase her power. Her god is Deia, the god of Vitae (the realm of life). 

Nikolas Cyr is a warrior with the ability to use light magic, such as being able to create wings or a shield made of light. He has a familiar named Lux. The king has tasked him to lead the special force responsible for removing conjuration, the illegal magic, from the city. His House worships Phos, the god of Solara (the light realm), although Nik is struggling with his faith. 

Risha Vakara is a necromancer, but since her House strictly controls the use of necromancy, she can often be found performing seances instead. She worships Thana, the god of Mortri (the realm of death). 

I really loved the cast of characters in this novel. They are diverse in personality and ferocity levels. While I enjoyed reading each of their POVs, I think Risha’s story was my favorite because of the introduction of a certain character named Jas, although you’ll have to read the book to discover why. 

I especially enjoyed the friendship and banter between Taesia and Risha and the romantic relationship between Taesia and Nik. And then there’s Angelica, who hates all the other Houses and doesn’t want to work with them, but reluctantly agrees to join forces. It felt to me like Taesia was the primary protagonist even though the four main POVs are equally present throughout the novel. Taesia’s character arc is certainly the most surprising of all the characters though. 

I think it’s really neat to see so many different kinds of magic present in one book, and we actually do get to see each of the characters use their magic quite a bit, including using their familiars to help them. We also get to see a fair amount of forbidden conjuration as well, which I personally thought was pretty cool. There are lots of good high-action scenes in The City of Dusk, and it’s cool to see one form of magic pitted against another form of magic. 

The noble Houses believe that the king will announce the new heir of Nexus on Godsnight, so they are trying to work together to put a stop to the illegal use of conjuration by then so the city doesn’t get destroyed while also trying to prove themselves each the superior House so the king will choose them for the throne. So there’s this interesting dynamic of being both friends and enemies at the same time and I loved it. 

The City of Dusk was a strong entry into the adult fantasy canon, and I’m so happy I read it. There was a portion of the book between about 70% and 90% that was a little slow for my taste, especially since we’ve been building up to this epic battle at the end and I was just ready to see how it turned out and the preparations beforehand were dragging on, in my opinion. So the book felt like it was longer than it needed to be. Other than that, though, I don’t have any complaints. It is easy to differentiate between the characters and their types of magic, and the plot was unique and fun. I can’t wait to read the sequels! 

“Am I a monster or a god? Who was to say they weren’t the same thing?” 

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