Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The City's Son

So I thought it was time to resurrect this blog, and I figured what better way to do it than with a book review? I've been contemplating doing written reviews for a while now - both of books and movies, and The City's Son by Tom Pollock was so good that I've finally given in to the urge. So, without further ado:

The City's Son By Tom Pollock
Amazon      B&N 
I picked up a copy of The City's Son after listening to Reliable Sources sing its praises for months. Almost every time I heard the book mentioned around the web, it was in the company of phrases like "life changing" or "genre re-defining" and I thought, with so many glowing, bubbling, burstingly positive reviews, it couldn't possibly go wrong, right?

Well. I started the book and was immediately put off by it. Within the first few pages, rather than landing on both feet in this new, unique urban fantasy world, I felt disoriented, like I'd taken the plunge too fast. In the first chapter, there's this bizarre mixture of tribal, fantasy, and plain old contemporary urban vibes. I didn't know where I was, only that I wasn't in the Same Old urban fantasy setting. But I started to like it, the cadences of this wild street urchin and the weirdness of it started to jive and I started feeling more comfortable in this other London.

Then the book switched point of view and suddenly instead of this magical underground I was in plain old regular London. The transition was beyond jarring, and every time the POV switched back and forth, I felt a little whiplashed. Even when the two main characters came together, and the real world and fantasy world started to merge, I still felt wobbly. Nearing page 100 of an almost 500 page long book, I started to question the taste of all the people who had recommended the book. I also started to wonder - if all these Book Authorities loved it, what the hell was I missing? I kept reading. And then something spectacular happened. Around page 100, I stopped looking at the page number, and an instant later I'd flown through another 50.

It took a while, but once the story got me, it GOT me. I devoured the entire rest of the book, drinking up every delicious magical detail of Pollock's London - the rules and the hidden races and the subtle, elegant twists on the things that live in every city. When I closed the book I understood what everyone had meant: this book had changed me. Maybe more than any other fantasy book I've ever read, I think The City's Son has altered the way I look at the "real" world. While most urban fantasy stories act on the assumption that there's a hidden magical world we're all just too hard headed to notice, Pollock does this so elegantly and so effectively that it actually feels real - not the typical "yeah, sure, vampires exist," but leaving me wondering about the secret lives of streetlamps and telephone poles, watching to see if statues move, appreciating every brick in an old building. And I'll certainly never look at a crane or construction site the same again. The City's Son doesn't just put fantastical elements into a real world setting, it takes the real world setting and finds and nurtures the magic in it, and then takes you on an adventure through it.

I couldn't be more excited for the sequel, The Glass Republic, because despite my rough landing in the series, I know I'm in the most capable of hands.

And really I think this is all worth saying simply because: if you pick up the book and don't get into it right away, trust me when I say, you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you put it down.

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