Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Review: The City's Son by Tom Pollock

Book: The City's Son
Author: Tom Pollock
Published: September 8, 2012
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

Beth Bradley loves London. She runs the streets of her city at night, spreading her artwork with her faithful best friend Pen. But there's another London underneath the one she knows, one where the statues and lightbulbs and the very rubbish of the streets are alive, and powerful.

One night after a terrible betrayal, Beth runs headlong into the magic of her city, in the form of a boy. Not just any boy, mind you. This is Filius Viae, the Son of the Streets, whose mother is the incarnation of the city itself. But the Goddess is lost and gone, and her mortal enemy, Reach, is gaining power.

Beth gets sucked into a power struggle between Filius and Reach. In the process, she discovers the beauty, and the danger, of the city she's always loved.

A lot of books claim to be urban fantasy, and really just mean "chick in leather fighting vampires." This is truly urban fantasy, where the city itself is as wild and weird a landscape as any that George R.R. Martin ever dreamed up. Is there anybody who's ever lived in a city and not believed that it was alive? Not just because of the people in it, but the city itself. Pollock has harnessed that instinctive fantasy, brought it to life, and thrown it into political turmoil as pitched and white-hot as any human war.

The reason I kept picking up my e-reader to finish this book was the atmosphere. Sure, there's a pulse-pounding plot, and yes, Beth is pretty awesome, and true, there's a compelling subplot about her best friend. But truly, it was Pollock's imagination at work, sucking me in. There's something downright magical in his descriptions of sentient lightbulb spirits made of glass, coldly efficient chemical beings, and statues that house living, unwillingly immortal souls.

Not only is every detail of the city imbued with its own animus, there are complex politics at work, making every character or group of creatures a wild card in Filius and Beth's struggle against Reach. For my part, I can't wait to see how everything plays out in the rest of this proposed trilogy.

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