Book Reveiw: The City Of Dusk (The Dark Gods #1), by Tara Sim

A Dark Fantasy | Netgalley eARC| Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Publishing: 22nd March 2022

So when I saw this marketed as a queer, gothic, god-filled fantasy I HAD to pick it up because it just sounds so awesome and I was definitely impressed!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 Stars

Synopsis: Four Heirs, Four Gods, Four Realms. The Realms are dying, the Gods have withdrawn their favour, and the Heirs are the only ones who could fix it- but at what cost?

CW/TW: Blood/Gore/Hanging mentioned/Death/Murder/Violence/Grief/Self-harm/cannibalism/parental abuse/others may be present.

The City Of Dusk, by Tara Sim is a Queer, Gothic, and Dark fantasy that is rich and imaginative.

Now, The City Of Dusk is a big book – it is a long read with multiple POV’s and a very rich world. I love a good chonky read, and I definitely think this one is worth sticking with and here is why.

The Prose/Writing. Sim’s writing is simply gorgeous – it is complex and rich but not confusing. Sim creates vivid and gripping settings that are detailed and immersive, truly bringing this world to life. From the beautiful to the deadly, every description, every setting, perfectly fit the tone of the story. The book’s pacing fits the story being told well- it is a very character focused story so overall it is quite slow paced book but the twists, turns and action keep you engaged.

The pace is also managed through the multiple POV’s. The main POV’s used are that of Taesia, Risha, Angelica, and Nik – but we also get Julian, Dante and a final mysterious narrator. I really enjoyed all the POV’s in this story, all the voices were distinct, their different perspectives gave us insight into the different Gods/magic and they all worked well to explore the different elements of the story. It also allowed us a lot of insight into this amazing and large cast of characters which meant we really get to connect with them and, therefore, the story.

The Worldbuilding/Magic. The world and magic in this book are so intricately crafted – it is very well done. The world has Four Gods that represent Life, Death, Light, and Dark. The each govern their own Realm. But, the Realms are dying and locked away – people can no longer travel between them. Within the Realm the characters currently occupy the Four noble Houses (Each of which have one of the Gods blood in their family line) are governed by the King. The King has no heirs and so the Houses compete for his favour hoping to be chosen.

The four different houses represent each of the Gods and have the magic of the God which blesses them. Taesia’s magic is that of Shadows, Nik’s of light, Risha’s of Death, and Angelica’s of life (the elements). I loved how we got such an in-depth view of the different types of magic, as well as the diversity within each type of magic. The magic was well balanced throughout the story, having flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths and development. Also FAMILIARS – we get to see shadow and light familiars and they are the best thing. I really loves all the magic, but Taesia and Risha’s had to be my favourite.

Aside from the magic, we also get to see a lot about each of the Gods which was fantastic. We see more of some than others, but we learn a lot about each of them, we get stories and interactions that keep you learning and guessing.

The world was very well crafted with realistic hierarchies and power structures – we get to learn more about citizens of other Realms too which was excellent.

Finally we get Demonic conjurers! Demonic conjurers start appearing and this opens the window for us as readers to learn about another part of this world, magic, corruption and threats. There is so much to this world and the magic that we learn over the course of the story and it continues to intrigue and fascinate.

The Plot/Story. The actual plot is brilliant, clever and interesting. So as the Houses try to gain the King’s favour (some more so than others) demonic conjurers start causing problems in the realm. This poses a threat to the upcoming Godsnight celebration and the Realm, and as the heirs each try to save the Realm they find that there is much more going on than meets the eye.

Sounds amazing right? But there is so much more to the story than this and I wish I could tell you but spoilers! However, I can tell you that Sim writes an amazing story that is absolutely full of twists, turns, secrets and cleverly crafted plots that all slowly come together to create a fantastic story. From the Demonic Conjurers, to the Gods, to the dying Realm, to to the approaching Godsnight – this is truly an epic story. Each POV tackles a different thread of the wider story but they also each have their own personal stories and issues to work through which added depth to the story and characters.

This really is a fantasy you have to read to truly appreciate just how intricate the plot is. OVerall, I really did enjoy this story, I loved the plot each character’s view of it and each of the character’s own personal arcs.

The Characters. The whole cast is queer and each character has a strong and distinct personality. Now, each character is an archetypal fantasy character but they are still very engaging due to coming across as realistic with their flaws a balancing their strengths.

Taesia – one of my favourite MC’s and a user of Shadow magic. Taesia is chaotic, all swords and sarcasm but very witty and truly has good intentions. Risha – another favourite and a user of Necromancy. Risha has a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty but is headstrong and stubborn. Nik is sweet and kind and a user of light magic. He tries to live up to expectations but is weighed down by guilt and is unsure of himself. Angelica is determined and hot-headed, a user of life/elemental magic. She struggles with her magic but is powerful.

All of the characters, including Julian and Dante, as well as the rest of the extensive cast are all excellently written and have strong, memorable personalities that keep you interested and engaged. There are a lot of characters we get to meet, family of the POV characters, friends, colleagues, and other citizens – I really enjoyed meeting the whole cast.

Overall, this is an intricate and engaging fantasy with an excellent magic system and compelling characters.

*I received an eARC from #Netgalley/#Hodder&Stoughton in exchange for an honest review – thank you!*


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