Published: October 23rd 2013 by Text Publishing
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
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Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, in its day Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers. When music student Sarah Weston finds herself with 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.
City of Dark Magic is absolutely nothing like I’d imagined, but enchanting all the same. The magical story is complemented perfectly with weird characters and an intricate plotline, set against the amazing backdrop of Prague.
Mangus Flyte’s novel has one of the best heroines I’ve ever read: Sarah is smart, sexy, brave, insatiably curious and just sassy enough to make me laugh without disliking her for being flippant. She is called to replace her mentor, who committed suicide. Sarah has landed an amazing job cataloguing the music collection of the Lobkowicz family, in preparation for the opening of the castle as a museum. She’s a pleasure to read about, and her adventures in Prague are captivating and tinged with darkness and magic. Of the other characters, the dwarf Nico and Senator Charlotte Yates made the biggest impressions, but there are plenty of interesting people in the book to keep readers engaged. However, I feel we didn’t get to know the other scholars living in the palace very well – they tended to blur for me.
The plot is an interesting mix of fantasy, murder-mystery and historical thriller – there’s plenty going on and if readers aren’t careful, they run the risk of overlooking important details. I love the ways the different plot elements tied together, and indications are that there is still plenty to be uncovered in the sequel. The romance in City of Dark Magic is handled in a completely different manner to what I am used to: Sarah doesn’t really spend any time mooning over Max, being jealous, or generally acting foolish when it comes to love, but their passion burns bright and often unexpectedly turns physical. Which surprised me the first time it happened but I got used to it.
My favourite aspect of the novel is how vividly Prague is brought to life. Flyte has admirable captured (I imagine) the feel of the city and history it is steeped in. The level of detail surprised me – without breaking the pace of the narrative, the author has described everything so well that I could imagine it easily . I really want to go and visit now!
I heartily enjoyed City of Dark Magic. I was enthralled by the city of Prague and the countless mysteries and intrigues that surround it, and love the journey Sarah takes into the past. I can’t wait to read the sequel!