Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book Review: City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte


Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense.

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.

Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.

City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

Penguin Books | 27 November 2012 | 464 pages

My Review

3.5 Stars

Fast-paced, full of intriguing characters with a storyline that will keep readers turning the pages, City of Dark Magic is a thriller that is sure to appeal to fans of a broad range of genres.

When Sarah Weston, a post-graduate music student specializing in Beethoven, is given the opportunity to work in Prague cataloging the great composer's manuscripts, it is an offer she simply can't refuse.  Not only will it give her the chance to further delve into Beethoven's life, but it will also allow her to look into the strange circumstances around the apparent suicide of her mentor.  But there is more to Prague than meets the eye, and Sarah soon finds herself involved in things that are perhaps best left alone.

One of the greatest strengths of this novel is its quirky set of secondary characters, including Beethoven himself, who makes several appearances throughout the story.  Most intriguing, however, are the 400-year old dwarf, Nicholas Perasuto, and the villain, U.S. Senator Charlotte Yates, who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.  As the novel's principal setting, Prague and certain darker aspects of its history are featured prominently.   The descriptions of the setting are particularly well-done and help to bring Prague itself to life.   While the novel's secondary characters and setting stand out, the two main characters, Sarah Weston and Max Anderson, are rather flat in comparison and it is difficult for the reader to be inspired by either them or their budding relationship.   Nevertheless, the plot itself unfolds nicely and in a way that keeps the reader engaged, making City of Dark Magic an overall fun and entertaining novel.  

Note:  An e-copy of this novel was provided to me by Penguin Books via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.