Dark Metropolis #1
Paranormal-ish Young Adult
Available June 17th
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.
Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.
Dark Metropolis is aptly titled, the story thrusting us into a world on the brink of chaos where horrors are rationalized as necessary for the greater good of a post-war nation, and death doesn't guarantee an absence of purpose. Though the premise is deeply intriguing, reading this tale feels like starting a television series on episode five–the story itself is self-contained enough that we understand what's happening, but the larger scale of the world and how it got to the point at which we make our entrance remains far from our grasp. There's mention of magic as though it's relatively commonplace (or at the very least well out in the open in this world), but aside from Freddy's ability to revive the dead, we see no other examples of it and are given no explanation for its existence, leaving our understanding of the world surrounding our characters riddled with a number of holes.
Though the synopsis suggests Thea is our main character, working with Freddy to uncover her best friend Nan's fate, what we find when we crack the spine is a story as much Nan's as Thea's, our time split between the two of them equally. We quickly discover too that Nan's storyline is the more riveting of the two, our time with Thea mostly filled with wanting to return to Nan and the darkness she finds hidden beneath a noble cause. We don't get to know either young woman exceedingly well, but Nan takes far more shape than Thea does over the course of a very quick 300 pages, her loyalty to–and protectiveness of–a young woman she meets something that draws us in far more than Thea's extraordinarily superficial relationship with Freddy.
Thea is brimming with the type of potential that could have made her a strong heroine, her problematic relationship with her mother following her father's presumed death in the war one poised to make us reach for tissues at any given moment (particularly as concluding events unfold), but our time with her moves too quickly. We instead find ourselves like riders on a carousel, circling round and round both her and Nan, trying to get a lock on either of them so that they might hold us in place and allow us to examine them more closely, but we're swept along with the ride even when we want nothing more than a moment of stillness to absorb all we're seeing. Overall, Dark Metropolis is a very quick, easily devoured read, though it is light on the world building and character complexity which leaves us wishing there had been a touch more etched in our memories when we reached the last page.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.