Author: Tom Pollock
Title: The City’s Son
Series: The Skyscraper Throne #1
Publisher: Flux (September 8th 2012)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen.
But the hidden London is on the brink of destruction. Reach, the King of the Cranes, is a malign god of demolition, and he wants Filius dead. In the absence of the Lady of the Streets, Filius’ goddess mother, Beth rouses Filius to raise an alleyway army, to reclaim London’s skyscraper throne for the mother he’s never known. Beth has almost forgotten her old life – until her best friend and her father come searching for her, and she must choose between the streets and the life she left behind.” GoodReads’ blurb
When I finished to read this book, I had to sit back, let myself breathe deeply and give myself a while to decide if it was a stroke of brilliance or a stroke of madness.
I’ve decided to go with the genius theory until proven wrong by the sequel.
The City’s Son is a young adult urban fantasy at its best... Meaning that the city itself is the main character. But I’m getting ahead of myself:
We’ll follow Beth, a character I found I could simpathize with. She’s the child of a broken home, with a father who doesn’t care neither for her nor for himself. She has to pull everything forward, which more often than not involves trouble making and a little bit of shop-lifting. This gives plenty of ammo to the school to expell her after a particularly rash graffiti statement and it puts her in that place of mental fragility where you’re willing to take any offered hand... Even if it’s a weird kid with tarmac-like skin intent on saving her from a railwraith in a killing spree.
When most people would just think they are mad and turn their backs or break completely, she just accepts it. If she’s gone off the deep end, she doesn’t mind: at least she’s not alone. While I’ve not been in her situation, I could completely believe her reactions and relate to her feelings, and that’s what made the story real for me.
Once she has met Filius and decided that she won’t be alone again, we discover the real conflict in the book: the city is at war with itself. That’s what I meant when I said that it was a sentient character—in The City’s Son, everything is alive and has a will, a soul if you must: from telephone wires to lamp lights to marble statues and harsh metal cranes, the city itself is alive and marching towards a final confrontation no one is ready to face.
Filius has helped Beth, saving her life and just being there for her, noticing her, breaking her loneliness and giving her the most marvelous insight into a city she always loved... But Beth has a great role to play along him too. He’s always been compared to his mother, the Goddess of the City, the City itself. He’s always been found sorely lacking, first of all by himself. So, when a stranger comes into his life with a spit-fire personality, a willfullness to never let him stand alone, and the belief that he can actually win, he grasps onto hope with both hands.
The relationship between those two was slow to develop, complicated, heartfelt and so very real that it tore me apart. This is not a merry-go-lucky campaign for the greater good: this is a fight for survival in a bleak situation where sacrifices need to be made without the certitude that they might actually change the outcome.
That’s what had me thinking so much about whether I had loved or just liked the book. It had me clenching my fists in despair and screaming in my mind about the unfairness of it all. It left me feeling raw and exhausted... and precisely because of that I decided that I loved it. That if one is left feeling so strongly, it’s worth it.
I have no idea where The Skyscraper’s Throne will be heading. I have a few hopes that I can’t explain because it’d spoil parts of the book, and I have a nearly crippling fear that they’ll be dashed because Mr. Pollock writes with that kind of harshness that doesn’t guarantee a happy ending.
I still can’t wait for the next installment.
If you’d like to read something different, darker, definitely new and original in YA urban fantasy... then what are you waiting for? Get this title, seriously!