City of Stairs Book Review

City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, #1)City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Review

I have some mixed feelings on this book. For the most part I liked it, but some things didn’t work so well for me. So I’m going to do a pro vs con list for my review.

Pros

The setting is different from most fantasies. Set in a semi modern analogue to Russia, conquered by an analogue to India, it makes things a bit more diverse, especially when the heroine is a little brown girl with big glasses.
It has an air of mystery and wonder to it throughout the whole novel, juxtaposed to the aforementioned setting.
It has a rich mythology.

Cons

Shara, the heroine, feels like a Mary Sue. She seems just a little too smart. Her companion, Sigrud, is a Gary Stu when it comes to fighting. Between them, there isn’t much suspense when they get to the action.
There are some parts that go deep into exposition, especially one part where Shara explains everything while cooking. While there was a lot of stuff to explain, some of it should have been parsed out more.
Along with telling too much, there was some showing too much. One time when a monster attacks, we see several viewpoints telling us basically the same thing, just how powerful it was. After the second or third, I was like, “I get it already.”
Some of the mythology seems to be a critique on organized religion, especially religions like Catholicism and Judaism. It seemed like the message was, “You don’t need God, nor should you follow any rules religions proscribed.” It kind of rubbed me wrong.

I see that this is book number one of The Divine Cities, but the ending pretty much wrapped itself up, so I don’t know where any other books would go with it. Not that I wouldn’t mind returning, but the way it ended, I don’t know how much more there is to explore. We’ll see.

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