Dystopian, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Divine Cities Book #1)

Originally, I was given the sequel of this book to read as an advanced copy, without having known at all that it was part of a series. It became quite clear to me after the first few pages that I was missing something. A quick search on Google showed me that I had completely missed the first novel so I did my best to get a copy of it. This novel has taken me a while to get to but only because my finals are coming around and I have had a multitude of exams and papers and deadlines to meet. But I decided to spend a day devoting all of my attention to this novel – and ended up stuck in the story all the way until midnight! So anyway, here is my review:

Bulikov was once a city that was known for its miracles and its powerful gods, who helped their people become conquerors of all other nations. But when Bulikov’s divine protectors were killed, the tables were turned. Now, its citizens are just another colonial outpost with remnants of its glory days surrounding it. It is this disparaging situation that Shara Thivani encounters on what is supposed to be a diplomatic mission. In reality, Shara is an accomplished spy who has been sent to capture the murderer of one of her colleagues. But as Shara starts to sift through the clues behind his death, she begins to suspect that there may be a larger plot at hand. Perhaps, Bulikov may not be done fighting – and maybe, its guardians are still alive.

Let me just start by saying that this novel was absolutely fantastic! It had a great storyline and enough detail to make everything fit without being boring. I am SO GLAD I read this novel and I cannot WAIT to read the sequel!

First off, let me just say that this novel is complex. It has a great deal of information that you cannot just ignore. It almost reminded me of Game of Thrones with all of its political intrigue and history and subterfuges. I have always liked history books and even though this story has no basis in real history, the author has provided enough detail to make it seem like there really were historical events like the ones depicted here! I found myself falling in love with the backstory and the mythological beings of Bulikov!

Another thing that I absolutely loved were the main characters. All of them had their own unique aspects. Shara is by far one of my favorite heroine of all times! She is smart, and witty, but not overly qualified in every field. She has her flaws and her strengths, and they balance each other out so wonderfully that I could see myself being best friends with her in real life. I also loved her friends/sidekicks in this story; they gave her some depth and maintained their own qualities, which really helped give the story some body.

The last thing that I will say about this novel is that it had the right blend of fantasy, mystery, and history. Again, I know that this isn’t a REAL historical fiction novel – but I would still say that it has historical aspects to it, with all of its allusion to lore and historical battles and conquests (all fake, but all detailed enough to be believable). I also loved that the reader could work on solving the mystery while also enjoying the magical elements throughout the book. It kept me on my toes for sure!

All in all, this novel was a fantastic read that kept me on high alert all the time. There was never a dull moment and every single thing that happened in this book flowed and made sense. I cannot wait to read more about Shara and how she handles whatever comes at her next! So if you love fantasy and mystery, then this is definitely the novel for you!

Happy reading ~

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