City of Light is the first book in an all new urban fantasy series by Keri Arthur. Which means I knew going in there would most likely be a huge info dump as the author set up the world-building, characters, backstory, etc… And I wasn’t wrong. Let’s see if I can piece together some sort of synopsis to give you guys an idea of what this book is about, but bear with me as it’s slightly confusing.
Tiger is all that’s left of a race of genetically engineered beings called Dechet, created by the humans for the war against the shifters. She lives in an old military bunker with the ghosts of the young ones who died in her arms when the shifters starting pumping poisonous gas and concrete into the building. It’s been a hundred years, but she still remembers the horror of watching all the young dechet perish. The dechet are a mix of vampire and shifter and are engineered to have a blending of powers from each group. Each were bred for different purposes in the war; some as spies, some as assassins and others as soldiers, but Tiger was created to be a lure.
But not all of us has been trained strictly as soldiers, just as not all of us were unfeeling. There were a few who’d been created with more specific skills in mind— chameleons able to alter their flesh at will, and who’d been tasked with either seduction and intelligence gathering or assassination.
I was one such creation.
After spending a hundred years alone with just her ghosts, only occasionally venturing out into Central to steal fresh fruit and veggies, she becomes embroiled in a quest to find thirteen innocent kidnapped children when she makes the decision to save the lives of a young girl and her shifter guardian from vampires one evening.
Okay, that’s the simplistic version. There is so much else going on… so, so much else. A whole lot of politics between shifters, humans and vampires. What happened after the war to the world and why they now all live in squalor and despair. How and why Tiger and her brethren were made. What abilities each of the species have and how that varies from person to person. It’s really hard to lay it all out in one review in any kind of clear and sensible way. Suffice it say there is A LOT of information to process. I had to highlight half the book so I would remember it all in order to write my review. It’s also kind of confusing. It took me a while to get it all straight in my head and figure out what was going on.
In some ways this is typical of a Keri Arthur fantasy. The heroine is unique in her world, she uses sex in certain ways in order to do her job and she ultimately feels a kind of connection and sexual attraction to someone she shouldn’t. As much as I wanted to like and root for Tiger her character fell a bit flat for me at times and it wasn’t until the very end that I started to actually feel something for her. And I’m not exactly sure why. She had all the characteristics I normally love in a fantasy heroine; she’s brave, protective and proactive. Even though she is CLEARLY being manipulated and forced to help the secondary characters in their quest to find the lost children, you get the feeling she would have done it any way. So I’m not sure why I didn’t connect with her. Speaking of secondary characters…. I can’t name one who I liked. Not even Jonas, who I imagine will end up a love interest as the series moves forward. Other than wanting to save the children they didn’t have many redeeming qualities. Not any of them.
As the action ramped up and the climax began to build I did get wrapped up in what was going on and had the feeling that I needed to know how it would all end. I was also expecting some resolution between Tiger and few of the secondary characters in order to create some excitement for the second book in the series. Instead there was a hugely exciting, fast paced scene followed by some bullshit thrown out there by a couple of characters who are complete assholes and Tiger basically saying ‘fuck you’ and walking off page. Abruptly.
So now I’m left with not knowing if I’ll continue on with this series. I see a lot of potential, but I wasn’t particularly fascinated or intrigued by any of the characters. I might pick up book two just to see if Jonas turns into a better love interest. We’ll see. Final Grade- C-