I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…
Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.
City of Lies is exactly the book I didn’t know I was looking for. It’s a fantastic introduction to the world, the characters are all engaging and relatable, and despite everything that happens in the book, it’s exactly like snuggling into a warm blanket.
I absolutely loved the three main characters, and I refuse to choose a favourite. They are all wonderful and deserve every good thing ever (I’M WATCHING YOU SAM). Jovan and Kalina provide our POV throughout the story, but we still get an incredibly good understanding of Tain’s perspective. I also really appreciated that even though their world is falling down around them, they’re all doing their absolute best to look out for the people in their charge. As much as I enjoy the darker side of fantasy, it makes a really pleasant change to see good people doing good things just because it’s the right thing to do.
The plot and worldbuilding were just as brilliant as the characterisation. Information was trickled in at the perfect rate, and while the overall book is a slow burn, by the time you get about 60% in, you’ll be completely hooked and desperate to find out what happens next. I would have liked to know a bit more about the villains, but in the context of what the POV characters know, we do learn quite a bit. I assume more information and context will be in the next book, and I’m very much looking forward to learning more about those people.
This book is just as much a murder mystery as a fantasy novel, which really helps lift it from “just another fantasy”. I am notoriously bad at predicting what will happen next, so I did have quite a few SAM, NO moments, especially towards the end as everything builds towards the climax.
I highly recommend every fantasy fan picks up a copy, especially if you like character-driven novels and shouting. I cannot wait to read the next book, this book is such a welcome addition to the fantasy scene.