City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: The Divine Cities #1
Published by Broadway Books, 9th September 2014
Genres: Fantasy, mystery
Source: Borrowed (library book)
The city of Bulikov was once the greatest city on the Continent, thanks to the all-powerful Gods who watched over its people. But these Gods also had the power to conquer the world and enslave its people, until they were killed themselves. Now Bulikov’s illustrious history has been censored and its inhabitants subjugated. The city itself was irrevocably altered by the death of the Gods and stands as a constant haunting reminder to its inhabitants of the lives they once lived.
Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. On the surface, she is just another junior bureaucrat sent by the city’s oppressors to lord it over them. But beneath her official veneer, Shara is in fact one of her country’s most accomplished spies. She was sent to Bulikov to investigate a murder but soon realizes that there is much more going on amongst the rubble. And she begins to suspect that the all-powerful Gods may not be as dead as everyone thinks.
I discovered this book by accident thanks to a YouTube video recommendation, but the glowing review and the fact that I love fantasy novels intrigued me. And I am so glad that I did find this book, and this series because I loved it! Part high fantasy, part spy novel, what’s not to love!?
The world-building in this book is incredible! The universe created by the author is astounding in its rich detail, it is so intricate and imaginative. I also loved that the reader’s knowledge of the world is constantly evolving and developing throughout the book. We are left guessing and questioning at every turn and I couldn’t put the book down.
This is also due to the fast-paced and intriguing mystery at the centre of the story. I was never quite sure what was going on exactly and who was behind it. Who did we trust and who were the bad guys? I love this kind of mystery which keeps me guessing until the very end.
The characters are all very interesting and well-developed in their own rights and I enjoyed discovering more of their backstories bit by bit. This first book sets up the rest of the series perfectly and I already can’t wait to read the other books. I have the second one on hold at the library already!
My rating: 5/5