There is a lot to like about The City of Dusk. It’s an interesting world with interesting characters and a plot you want to follow throughout the story. But there are things about this book that I just couldn’t overlook and honestly took away from my reading experience. While I really liked this book, I wanted to love it. Thanks to Orbit Books for the gifted read.
The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.
But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.
Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.
But their defiance will cost them dearly.
So let’s talk about this book for a moment. It’s actually really good, but maybe my expectations were too high especially since this book is over 500 pages long, the start of an epic fantasy trilogy, and written by someone who isn’t their first rodeo. But as much as I thought this book was really good, I also wasn’t the biggest fan.
I am of two minds when it comes to this book. On one hand, you have this incredible world. The idea of these gods existing and there’s this realm that’s been cut off from them and there’s conflict there and the heirs of these gods want to fix it. It felt straightforward and something that you can see filling the 500-page novel and more. Then you have these incredible compassionate characters who are supposed to hate each other, but you know that deep down they care. They’re also so seriously flawed dealing with some real issues while also facing the scrutiny of their very important part in the whole fabric of the universe.
I loved getting to know these characters and I felt like there was more care put into them than into the plot. You see the kind of pressure they face and while this book is supposed to be for adults, it felt very young to read them going through their individual trials and also really relatable. But I felt like the care for these characters was a much bigger priority. I knew more about these characters and their flaws than I did about the world itself.
The part that really confused me was the world building. On a surface level, you get it. It’s a world cut off from the rest of the realm. There’s gods that each of these four main characters represent and this part I loved. I loved that there’s this whole history with the gods and how they created human heirs who are blessed with their powers. They’re looking for a way to save their world since crops are dying and resources are becoming scarce. And you follow along as they figure that out. But then you get to the finer details and it all gets confusing. There were big reveals that came out of the blue. There were people trying magic for the first time who didn’t even know they had magic. There were conclusions people came to with very little evidence to support how they got there.
There were also other humans in this world with power. They’re displaced refugees from these other realms and in those realms they have the same kind of magic that the heirs have and in some cases can wield them better than the heirs themselves. I think…
It’s very clunky. I honestly felt like I was stuck in a maze in the dark at some points. Just when I think I figured it out, there’s some new piece that confused me further. There was also a bit of confusion over the realms. While most of the action takes place in this city called Nexus (or The City of Dusk? That wasn’t clarified either), there was an entire other world outside of that. I wanted more info about how that all worked because it felt super important to the story and there just wasn’t enough for me to fully grasp it.
And there’s so much you want to love about this book. There were points where I thought that I would. I really wanted to love it, but there were just so much that took away from it.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about this book and a bunch of flaws as well. I wonder if this is a case of first adult fantasy jitters. I have a feeling that the second and third books in this trilogy will be better than this one. There was so much I loved about this book, but the tiny things I wasn’t a fan of really put a damper on my reading experience. I liked it, but I wanted to love it and sadly, it didn’t deliver that for me.