As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

May 29, 2011

THE DARK CITY by Catherine Fisher, 2011

The Dark City #1 (Relic Master)Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it. (Amazon)

Review by Laura Madsen, Veterinarian and Writer

I was excited to get an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of this novel. While I’ll read nearly any genre, fantasy is my first love. THE DARK CITY is the first in a series of four books to be released this summer; it will be followed by THE LOST HEIRESS in June, THE HIDDEN CORONET in July, and THE MARGRAVE in August. Wow, impressive marketing campaign!

The novel is categorized as young adult fantasy, although I’m actually not sure why it was designated YA. It could just as easily be shelved with adult fantasy. The main character’s age is never stated, but from context could be anywhere from fifteen to twenty.

The novel provides an excellent example for aspiring novelists learning the lesson of How To Write A First Chapter. We learn within the first few pages that this is a fantasy set somewhere other than our world (“The seven moons were all in the sky at once”); that the main character has magical abilities (“He let his third eye open and made tiny purple filaments of light spray from the central moon…”); that the main character has a personal conflict with his mentor (“It was no use talking to Galen”); that the characters belong to the Order of keepers and are being pursued by the Watch; and that the Order is concerned with technological relics (“They found a relic, as they were plowing. A tube. When you touch it, it hums. Small green lights move inside it”).

Raffael (Raffi) Morel is a young man apprenticed to Galen Harn, a cynical old man with wounded leg and damaged mind. They are keepers, member of a magical order dedicated to protecting the relics of a previous civilization. The Makers left behind cities, buildings, and technological equipment. The Order of keepers has been outlawed, with many keepers murdered and much knowledge lost.

Raffi and Galen travel to Tasceron, the abandoned city of the Makers. They are joined by a girl, Carys Arrin. Carys tells Raffi and Galen that she is tracking her abducted father, but the reader knows she is a member of the Watch, the governmental agency which hunts the keepers. Carys joins the others on their journey, and comes to question the beliefs of the Watch.

Tasceron is like the evil twin of Oz City: creepy, decrepit, and lawless. The city is cloaked in smoke from fires that have been burning deep underneath for decades. In the gloom hide Watch patrols—and worse monsters.

Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Market: Young Adult (fantasy)
Language: none
Sensuality: none
Violence: moderate
Mature Themes: murder, betrayal, deceit

Book formats:

To learn more about the author, visit: Catherine Fisher


Amy Finnegan {} said...

This sounds like a great book, Laura! Thanks for the review.

Catherine Fisher now has a big enough fan base in the U.S. (after the INCARCERON series) to pull off releasing 4 books in just one summer! That is truly amazing :)

Anonymous said...

This does sound absolutely amazing! I have yet to read her Incarceron series, but INCARCERON and SAPPHIQUE are in my To Read pile. Thanks for the great review, Laura!