The City of Dusk by Tara Sim – ARC Review

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Years ago the Four Realms were all linked, allowing travel between and cities that flourished. But then the God’s withdrew their favour and now the Realms are dying. For each God there is an heir, and they are not willing to sit aside & watch their world burn to the ground, but working together after years of animosity isn’t easy, and each have their own end goals they want to achieve in the process. However, there is a darker force at work, someone who has waited years to see the world they envisioned come to life, and they will stop at nothing to achieve it. Taesia, Nik, Angelica and Risha will have to put their feelings aside if they are to save their Realm, and all the people who reside in it.

The City of Dusk was on hell of an epic fantasy filled with political intrigue, plot twists and some brilliantly written characters. The story is told from the POV’s of the four Heirs: Taesia, Nik, Angelica and Risha, as well as a few others dotted throughout who add to the intrigue and overall mystery of the story. Taesia, my fave, is heir to house Lastrider and has the ability to effect shadows, Nik is heir to House Cyr, the polar opposite of Taesia who has power over light, Angelica is heir to House Mardova who has control over the elements & Risha is heir to house Vakara who’s power is necromancy. One thing I loved about these characters, and essentially their defining feature, is that they are all incredibly vulnerable, whether it’s never being able to live up to your family’s expectations, or understanding that you have to become something dark to get the job done. All of our heirs are initially willing to work together, however tenuous the relationships may be, to solve their problem, but politics and family end up in the way, almost pitting them against one another, ensuring they all make some truly terrible decisions & put their world at risk.

As well as our four MC’s we have a few more POV’s who I can’t really mention because of spoilers, but they do play a rather large part in the story, be it foreshadowing, or simply giving us another point of view into current events. But Sim doesn’t just stop there, we get deep dives into every single magical family, learning their ins and outs, how different family members can use different variants of the powers, as well as a lot of political players thanks to the King having a large part to play. Each character is easily identifiable, and although there a rather large bunch, I never felt overwhelmed and certainly never struggled keeping them all straight in my head.

If you like your books chunky and filled with in depth looks at the magic system, world building and politics then this may be the book for you. Essentially, their world has four Gods that represent light, dark, life and death, and they each ruled one of the four realms. Their powers are gifted to the four noble houses Lastrider, Cyr, Mardova & Vakara passing from heir to heir, and while people from each of the realms have access to the power of their God, it is only the houses above who are fully able to wield their powers. Thanks to the multiple POV’s we get a true deep dive into the different magics, learning the limits to them all as well as their strengths & weaknesses. We also get familiars! Both house Lastrider and House Cyr are able to create familiars from their powers who are able able to be used as pretty effective weapons in a fight.

Politics wise, we start the book realising that the current King has no heir and so has announced he will be choosing from one of the magical bloodlines, something that pit’s house against house. Sim also shows how thanks to the current King’s rule and the effects of the Realm’s being cut off, each heir has more than there own family to think of and try and protect. When the Realms were cut off there were people who were unable to return home, essentially refugee’s and the King treated them as such. They live on the outskirts, never treated as full citizens, and our Houses have to feed and look after them. She shows the reality of being magical in a realm that is lead by a non magical King, his fear of them, believing them to house rebel factions, and willingness to blame them for things that occur can easily be paralleled into the world today, and make you wholly more invested in the characters plans, desperately wanting these people to travel to a home some have never seen.

If there’s one thing Tara Sim excels at it’s her descriptions of anything physical, be it battle’s or simply describing a characters movement, she writes it so well that it almost plays as a movie in your head whilst reading. It’s almost cinematic in it’s descriptions and this is a story that I would love to see make the move to the big screen. I did feel like the pacing was off in parts which really slowed the story down, but thanks to the plot twists, as well as Sim’s descriptive writing you never really loose focus from the main story line. I lived for the parts of the book where our characters powers were being used, which is luckily quite a lot, and enjoyed seeing them progress in learning how to use them.

The City of Dusk is filled to the brim with magic, politics, world building and romance. Sim has created a world like no other and brings it to life with her effortless prose and descriptive writing. When I say this book ends with a bang, I certainly wouldn’t be lying, and i’m incredibly eager to see where the story will go in the second book.

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