The City of Dusk by: Tara Sim

Ok so, I gotta be honest y’all. This book is too long. It’s a slog. And I’m a Brandon Sanderson fan.

The difference here is he’s better with his word economy. What happens on the page matters and there’s enough going on from page to page and chapter to chapter to keep you interested in 500+ pages of story.

The City of Dusk doesn’t really do any of that. It’s not a bad book, it just needed to be thinned down. This book was so long, I stopped being excited to read it. After reading, I wouldn’t want to read anything else for the rest of the day. In print it hits around 570 pages if I remember right.

And it’s the first in a series! That’s too long! At least for the actual content in the chapters and scenes. Here’s the thing. This book has a really great premise. A magic system that I think is interesting (not sure, I’ll get to that later) and a big cast of characters. A lot of them are queer and there’s no homophobia!!! After one of the last books I read had homophobia in it, I was worried but this, at least, was a breath of fresh air in that regard.

Now, it gave me Warhammer 40k vibes. Which I loved. The settings are dark, things are rough. It was great.

What isn’t great is the characters are flat, description runs on too long and it’s vague. There’s a family of necromancers and they use string to bind spirits. We only ever got vague descriptions of how it worked, but with so many words that basically said nothing at all.

Here’s the story setup. This world, Nexus, used to be connected to other realms. Other species/ races are now trapped there due to the Sealing. When the gods up and disconnected everything for some unknown reason. Now the realm is failing, dying and if they can’t break the Sealing, who knows how long it’ll last. It’s up to a group of heirs who are early in adulthood to break it down.

Now, you might ask why it’s up to them. Why don’t those in power do something? Isn’t’ it a little unbelievable?

Nope. Those in power want to stay in power, not admitting anything is wrong and get richer while those below them suffer. It is the most realistic and grounding thing in the book.

This is marked at adult and the characters are in their early twenties. I appreciated that. I’m so tired of fantasy always being people in their forties. Adult fantasy has had no variety for so long and I want this author to do well to bring younger adults into it without them feeling like they absolutely have to read YA. Adult means adults of every age, not just people closer to midlife and up.

That said, I don’t want to spend this review ragging on the book. I, unfortunately, can’t see myself reading it again. It’s just full of unimportant prose. And it takes so long to get going. No one should have to read a book on the promise of “oh but that last 20-30% really pick up” because that’s a sign that there’s a real pacing issue.

I give it three (3) stars. Hopefully the next book is more edited and really brought to heel. Just because it’s adult fantasy and has a bigger word count doesn’t mean we actually need all of the words possible. Especially when they don’t say much.

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to them and the publisher


Author. Reader. Reviewer. Interested in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and everything in between. Ya, and Adult. Looking for representaion where it matters! BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, everything! We all deserve stories!

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