I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The City's Son (The Skyscraper Throne #1) by Tom Pollock
Published: Flux (2012), ARC, 480pg
Genres: Action, Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.
But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Urchin’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Urchin raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind. (from Goodreads)
Urban fantasy books where the city itself is magic aren’t anything new in adult genre fiction, but a YA book that deals with that subject is relatively new. Thus it was with an excited and open heart that I requested The City’s Son from the publishers via NetGalley. I knew it had to be a book I’d enjoy reading, because who WOULDN’T want to read a book about a magical London, its prince-god, and a sarcastic teenage girl all running amok together?
The best thing about The City’s Sonis that it has both a girl and a boy protagonist. And they’re both expertly written! Huzzah! I LOVED Beth, and Filius wasn’t as annoying as he could have been, had anyone else written this. You know what I mean: mysterious teenage boy + paranormal/fantasy things + teenage girl usually = Anastasia wanting to puke. But that whole thing was avoided here, and by the end of the book Filius won me over completely. Beth, though, was the real star. It’s so great having a snarky teen girl protagonist who isn’t a caricature, who actually does have feelings and thoughts other than boys. I could totally see Beth walking around IRL London, causing trouble and having fun with her friends.
There IS a bit of romance in here, although it’s never taken to a ridiculous level. The attraction between Beth and Filius is immediate, but the romance builds gradually and naturally (and thus believably) and it never starts backseat driving the rest of the book. Woohoo!
The magic/fantasy aspect was just as amazing as the characters, especially how it was worked into the life of the city and the people who live there. It reminded me somewhat of the Matthew Swift books, only less confusing. There are creatures and people who live in London that are in no way human (nor tied into any human mythology, as far as I could see) and it was pretty freakin’ cool to not have your more usual fantasy fare (vampires/werewolves/wizards/etc). Instead, we got Sodiumites, and the Wire Mistress, and the people who live in walls (or who ARE the walls?), and train spirits who jump their tracks to cause havoc. It all felt familiar in a way I didn’t expect, especially since I’ve never been to London. It felt as if these things COULD be living in London, right now, especially the fantasy London of most people’s imaginations. VERY cool, don’t you think?
Apparently The City’s Son is the first book in a trilogy, but the ending is pretty tight and free of lingering questions that need to be answered immediately. If you’re tired of cliffhangers, you might appreciate that, haha!
As for me, I definitely want to read the next book, if only to see what happens to Beth and Pen (another awesome female character!). As for this book, however, The City’s Son is definitely worth picking up.
Read: July 7-8, 2012
Here’s the UK cover, btw:
I MUCH prefer this one to the US cover (shown at the top of this post). The US cover makes the book look like…idk, some sort of weird Photoshopped romance book? The UK one is much more stylish, in my opinion. What do you think? Which cover do you prefer?
Here’s an interview with Tom Pollock: