I stumbled across this book on a list of LGBT Dystopian fiction and tried the sample. I was hooked from the very first page. I bought the book right away and proceeded to devour it.
The author has created a fantastic bisexual book with focus being on the plot and intricately crafted world and characters. Imagine a 1920s-style city woven with Scandinavian flavor and a court filled with intrigue, politics, religion, and extra-marital affairs. Myadar, the central character, is a woman who grew up outside the city and is unaware of the sweeping religious revolution brought about by the konunger, in which temples have been destroyed and one of the gods, Tyr, is worshipped at the expense of all others. Myadar is summoned to court by her husband Reister and quickly swept up into a world she doesn’t understand, one where her son is stolen from her by her spouse and where she has no power, only that which she can win with her charm. She quickly overcomes her despair at being held hostage and makes the most of her situation, using every tool at her disposal to play the games of the court better than those who seek to use her for their own ends.
I loved Myadar. She has enough weaknesses to be human, and yet is resourceful and intelligent. Watching her learn to twist those who seek to play her is gratifying, especially when she’s a thorn in Reister’s side. She’s not afraid to use her body to achieve her ends, but at the end of the day her real strength is her understanding that the people who matter most are worth more than revenge.
I wouldn’t call The City Darkens a romance, yet there are definitely romantic elements that end satisfyingly enough. Myadar has sex for love and sex for power, with both men and women. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and yet I loved how complex and exciting the romantic and sexual tension could be. This isn’t a warm-fuzzy-feelings soulmates-forever kind of book, and honestly I found that refreshing. This book was a real page-turner and I couldn’t put it down. I was glued to the page, wondering how things could possibly work out in Myadar’s favor.
I was sad to see that this book seems to have been largely overlooked, with few Goodreads reviews. I urge you to try it out if you love politics, intrigue and plot in your LGBT fiction. I’m currently reading the sequel and loving that, too. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I’m pretty sure it’s going to make my best books of the year list.