Tag Archives: grimdark

ARC REVIEW: THE CITY OF DUSK BY TARA SIM

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.

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But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city.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. 

WARNING: This book is DARK. There is more than one straight-up murder committed by a main character. Cannibalism is seen/done by a POV character. There is no shortage of violent gore, either.

Not going to lie to you, it took me about thirty percent of the way into this book to really start vibing with how things were going. At first, everything is just deeply confusing — there’s so much going on and very little explanation of everything. There’s four main characters, plus two others who have POV chapters as the book goes on. That’s a LOT of characters to keep track of in a first book of a series. Thankfully, it does get easier to follow.

The City of Dusk takes place in world that USED to be four worlds layered on top of each other. Travel between the worlds used to flow freely, but then the gods fought amongst each other, and the worlds were sealed off from one another. I’m simplifying this for the review because there’s a helluva lot more going on. Since the world was sealed off, power and life has slowly been leeching away. The world is dying, and it’s left to the heirs of the four houses to figure out how to bring the world back to life. Again, that’s an extremely simplified version of events. I don’t want to spoil everything, especially the ending of the book which is SO WELL DONE.

The four houses have four different powers, because they all are derived from four different gods. House Lastrider has power over shadows. House Mardova has elemental powers. House Vakara has necromancy. House Cyr has light powers. The descriptions of the powers, and the way the characters use their powers throughout the book is just so cool. One of my favorite parts of this book, really.

Another review I saw of this book describes the worldbuilding as a hot mess, and yeah, unfortunately, I agree. There’s a hodgepodge of familiar fantasy tropes, and real world cultures all thrown on top of one another with very little explanation of how things work or are expected to work. If there had been a little more book-specific culture building, I think it would have read easier. This does not really detract from my enjoyment of the book too much, however. Just something to note.

Overall, The City of Dusk is an enjoyable first book in a fantasy series. I look forward to reading the rest when they come out!

The City of Dusk comes out March 22, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: KAGEN THE DAMNED BY JONATHAN MABERRY

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Sworn by Oath
Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins.

Abandoned by the Gods
Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of this enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways.

Fueled by Rage
To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire.

Kings and gods will fear him.

DNFing at 22%.

This book is literally badly written info-dump after info-dump, followed by some gratuitous violence and detailed sex scenes. The info-dumps are bad. Like really bad. Every single character I’ve met at 22% of the way into the book basically speaks in info-dumps. I’ve heard there’s detailed rape scenes as well, but at 22% into the book I haven’t seen one. And to be honest? I don’t want to see one. No, thank you.

Now, the violence and the sex scenes by themselves wouldn’t bother me, but when you follow one with the other, and include mentions of dead children while your characters are having sex, well, its not for me. Not every book is for me, I know that, but just don’t with this one.

Kagen the Damned comes out May 10, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE