Book One of the Black City Chronicles
By Elizabeth Richards
Available now from Putnam (Penguin)
Part of the Fall 2012 Breathless Reads Campaign
I watch True Blood an entire season at a time. My dad Tivos the episodes for me, then I watch them all when I go to visit him. Thus instead of watching season five this summer, I watched it shortly before reading BLACK CITY. One of the points made repeatedly was the humans outnumbered vampires enough to destroy them all if it came to war, even though the vampires are stronger and faster. Then I read BLACK CITY, where the vampires (called Darklings) are all living in a ghetto, having been defeated and quarantined by the humans.
How do you keep the Darklings to stay quietly behind a wall? How do you keep them fed, since it wouldn't be well received to let a defeated people starve to death? What do you do about the plague racing through the population? What do you do about the children of half-human, half-Darkling heritage? These are all questions the heavily religion-influenced government would prefer the population not think about.
Ash Fisher has to think about it because he's a twin blood, living with his human father and letting humans get high on the drug that is his blood because there's no other way he can make money. Natalie Buchanan has to think about it because she's the daughter of the Emissary, the head of the local government who is struggling for control with Purian Rose, local religious leader. They also have to think about it because they fall in love - and human and Darkling relationships are illegal.
I must praise Elizabeth Richards for putting both vampires and a love triangle in her debut and doing something very different with them. Seriously, this is one very inventive twist on the love triangle and I can't wait to see how it plays out in PHOENIX and other subsequent installments of the Black City Chronicles. And her vampires have an interesting mythology. They have their own legends, funeral rites, and other culture. They're willing to do tough things in order to endure and eventually overcome. Richards also throws in some genetic manipulation via mad science, and ya'll know I'm always up for mad science.
BLACK CITY is a fast-paced, and indeed breathless, read. I fell in love with the story from the first chapter, where Ash's meeting with a client goes very wrong. And I didn't fall out of love at any point. I'm intrigued by the world Richards has created and want Ash and Natalie to make it, even if I do have to laugh at some of their more dramatic gestures of love. BLACK CITY is an intense, original novel and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel. I have to know what happens!