Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: The City Darkens (Parts 1-4) for Fae Books

It's time again for another lovely review! This time, I read the first 2 parts in a serial novel-a first for me! This was a "deco-punk" genre, which is another first for me, mashing together the 20s/30s era in America and Europe with a hint of futuristic themes. It's a pretty cool mash up, so I was interested to see what was going to come of it. First, a bit about the serial novel:

"Summoned to the capitol of Ódalnord to attend the coronation of the new monarch, Myadar must navigate the perils of the decadent court as she becomes increasingly concerned with evidence of a rising tyranny.

For ten years Myadar has tended her estranged husband's estate, far in the south of Ódalnord, when one day he sends for her and their five year old son to come to Helésey to witness the coronation of the country's konunger and konungdis. Bewildered by strange, decadent fashions, courtiers' innuendos, and the konunger's authoritarianism, Myadar is unprepared to succeed there. When Myadar's husband insists that she remain permanently, she must find a way to resist him and take her son back to the safety of their familiar lives.

Myadar's Snare is part one of the serialized novel, The City Darkens."

"Myadar's brutal husband, Reister, nearly killed her when she ransacked his study trying to find some clue as to Bersi's whereabouts. Her will broken, Myadar consents to behave as a model courtier, but as she attends the glittering soirées, she becomes friends with Liut Krigr, who takes her under his wing. Before long, the friendship develops into something more, and Myadar's hope for escape is reborn. 

Myadar's Betrayal is the second installment in the serial novel, The City Darkens."

This serial novel was given to me by the author for an honest review for Fae Books.
Having never read a serial novel before, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this series. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. Each part was like a lengthy chapter, but it made perfect sense to be broken up in this way. 

In Myadar’s Snare (Part 1), the reader is introduced to Myadar, mother to Berti and wife to Riester, living alone in the family’s estate with her son and servants while her husband is away at court in the Capitol city. Before she knows it, she is swept away into this high class city and their strange customs. That’s when things get really interesting.

The author did a wonderful job of setting up the scene and getting inside the mind of the main character, Myadar. The reader can feel as if they are Myadar, being stolen away from the only home she’s ever known and thrust into this new lifestyle that goes against everything she believes in and who she really is. It’s very interesting to learn about the new titles and this strange lifestyle that is so different from our own. It can get a tad confusing in the beginning with the introduction of so many new names and titles to go along with them, however the author consistently uses them to address the characters, so the repetition helps acquaint the reader with the appropriate titles. This was a very good idea for the author, and I must commend her for this. The descriptions were spot on as well, painting a very realistic picture of this sort of dystopian civilization with their mixture of old and new in both culture, fashion, and lifestyles. Well done here!

Soon, we learn more about the strange Capitol city and their belief system, not to mention the lifestyle of these aristocratic families and their lustful habits. I loved reading about how the society transitioned from a polytheistic to monotheistic belief system, and the drastic changes in their lifestyle even according to Myadar’s recollection of the old ways. It seems there is so much more going on that we haven’t been privy to yet, and there are a lot of dirty schemes going on.  The reader learns to hate and love to hate certain characters, while still feeling the emotions of Myadar as she struggles with the sexual tension of a couple of characters, neither of which are her husband. I love this kind of tension, it makes the story so much more appealing. Part 1 leaves the reader breathlessly awaiting Myadar’s plot to escape with her son to the simpler lifestyle, and wondering how on earth she can accomplish it.

For Part 2 of the serial novel, Myadar’s Betrayal, the exquisite artistry with which the author paints the scene continues when Myadar begins living the life of luxury in spite of her guilty conscience nagging at her behind the numbness. When Myadar finally has a friend to rely on, the reader gets swept up in her dirty little secrets while the mysterious findings from Riester’s room dance at the edge of the reader’s mind, tempting with possibilities of things that may come. Of course, Reister’s shady meetings make the reader curious as to what dirty dealings he has going on, and curious as to whether Myadar could become a vigilante Robin Hood style heroine. 

This part of the novel plays on the emotions more than ever. The reader is led to feel the emotions of Myadar as if they belonged to the reader. Finally forging a plan of escape with the man she loves, her worst nightmare comes true as she learns everything she has been led to believe has been a lie, and the only person she loves besides her son is the one person who has been working with her greatest foe. Reeling from the revelation of her mistakes, she vows to take revenge on those who have hurt her. The ending of Part 2 is gripping and I can’t wait to continue this series and find out what the next course of action is for Myadar, as well as whether or not she lives to tell the story. 

Between the vivid descriptions, the excellent style of the author’s storytelling, and the way the reader is thrust into this world created by the author, I would have to give this story a 5/5 or 10/10 stars. I’m really looking forward to continuing Myadar’s adventures. Well done, Sophia!

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