Publication Date 23rd August from Bantam Press.
Source: Review Copy.
I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…
Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.
City of Lies was an incredible piece of storytelling and by far one of my favourite early reads of the year so far.
Considering it’s not a short novel I banged through it in record time- pretty much three binge reading sessions where I immersed myself into the the city of Silasta, with its vibrant eclectic cultures and wide range of characters, where we meet Jovan and Kalina, the narrator’s of this epic tale, both of whom you will stick with through thick and thin.
“I was seven years old the first time my Uncle poisoned me” – well if that first line doesn’t make you read on I don’t know what will. The thing with City of Lies is it’s immediate hook, the way the author builds the world and your understanding of it so beautifully and so quickly then drags you along with this brother and sister team as they realise something is rotten underneath the surface of this seemingly idyllic place and get plunged into a siege. Determined to protect the so called Bright City and it’s young untested chancellor Tain, secrets and lies are everywhere.
There is a wonderful mystical undercurrent here that allows an exploration of prejudice in all it’s forms and the supporting cast of characters are all so so engaging- good, evil and all the shades inbetween you can’t help but get totally caught up in this fight for survival and search for a moral truth.
The political landscape is cleverly woven into the story allowing for machinations aplenty and you should always expect the unexpected. The setting is descriptively perfect and it is beautifully written throughout.
The relationship between Jovan and Kalina is so well described- their family history and that of their home is compelling and intricately woven into the narrative. I especially felt for Kalina, weak in body but certainly not in mind or spirit, she is perhaps one of the best female protagonists I’ve seen in recent years. She does have some competition from Hadrea though….
The action is all consuming, the quieter moments are thought provoking on many levels, the ending was perfect (I NEED the next book) what Sam Hawke has done here is pure magic on the page.
The ancient spirits may be rising but they’ll have to wait in line – I am hook, line and sinkered and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Silasta, the wider world around it and of course our motley crew of hero’s and heroine’s who stand between the darkness and the light.
Highly recommended. With bells on. Don’t miss it.