This was a book I had been wanting to read for a while because I love sci-fi/fantasy that’s set in the Prohibition Era, so I was pleasantly surprised when I realized my library had a copy! And I’m going to keep this review nice and simple by using some lists.
Things I Liked:
– I liked the Feirie and Catholicism aspects, both separately and the way they combined (although I admit I’m not very knowledgeable about Catholicism, so don’t worry, you don’t need to know about it in order to enjoy the book). The main character, Nick, is actually Saint George, and when he slayed the dragon, he didn’t realize the dragon was guarding the Gate to Feirie. Now the dragon is a part of him, sharing a body, and they are both charged with guarding the Gate. So while this book absolutely was not preachy in any way, there were Catholic references sprinkled throughout, as well as plenty of fae stuff.
– Nick’s relationship with the dragon was super interesting. They basically hated each other, and the dragon was always trying to find a way to take control of the body and be the dominant one, but they were stuck together whether they liked it or not, and they also relied on each other and were allies in some ways… so it was a very complex, tenuous relationship. (P.S. There is a reason the dragon refers to himself as ‘Eye’ that gets explained a little ways into the book, so don’t worry about that if it seems weird when you start reading.)
– Speaking of the dragon, I think he was my favorite character. I don’t know, I found him really fascinating! And to be quite honest, I can’t say I blame him for wanting freedom and for being angry about his forced servitude. He was forced to guard the Gate for who knows how long, then he was killed by Nick and is now forced to be trapped inside a body he can’t even control. I’d be angry too.
– I found some of the side characters interesting as well, like Diocles, Fetch, and Kravayik. And the relationship Nick had with Diocles was also a complex one. On the one hand, it seemed harsh the way Nick treated him. On the other hand, I could understand why he still couldn’t forgive him (Diocletian was the emperor who had Saint George executed).
– While I didn’t like everything about Claryce, I did like how she handled herself in fight situations. She didn’t stand around like a damsel in distress—she jumped right in to shoot someone or stab someone or do something in order to help Nick, oftentimes giving him the opening he needed and making all the difference in how the fight ended.
– I loved the Prohibition Era setting! I’ve just always found that time period interesting. And I liked that the book was actually set in Chicago and included gangsters. Like, it really used the setting rather than making it just a random backdrop.
Things I Disliked:
– Maybe it made sense to the author, but the magic seemed pretty random and deus ex machina to me. Nick would get into a sticky situation, and then some weird, new magic would show up (whether it was something he, his sword/dagger, or another character did) and fix the problem. Or vice versa.
– I didn’t feel super connected to the main characters. I got more invested as the story went on, but I guess it took me a bit to kind of get used to the dryness of Nick’s POV. I liked him and was rooting for him, but the way he was written didn’t make me feel that much emotion or depth from him. I feel like he has emotion and depth, you just have to look some to find it. As for Claryce, she never seemed quite realistic. She jumped into things too quickly, immediately insisting on being a part of everything Nick was doing, always insisting on going with him even when it was dangerous, etc. But the real problem with her was that she didn’t really have much character development other than being feisty and headstrong.
So overall, I definitely liked more than I disliked about this book (requested the next book from my library already and am crossing my fingers they’ll get it because I want to continue!), and I thought the Feirie aspects, the Catholicism aspects, the Prohibition Era setting, and the complex relationships made for an interesting and unique read!
Anyone who likes urban fantasy, fae, dragons, Catholicism, the Prohibition Era, and complex relationships.
For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.
Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.
Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.
The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.
Book Author: Richard A. Knaak
Series: Black City Saint
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
My Book Rating: 3.5
Series/Standalone: Part of a Series
Setting Location: Illinois, USA