SPOILER ALERT!
Dark Metropolis  - Jaclyn Dolamore

[I got an ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. The book not being released yet, some things might be liable to change by the time it hits the shelves.]

 

3.5 stars. I had my qualms with this novel, but overall it had just the right amount of tension and mystery going to keep me wanting to turn the pages. And, of course, it’s got necromancy. I am always biased towards necromancy. Nothing can go wrong with necro—wait, what am I saying?

 

Though inspired from Metropolis, I found it to be able to stand on its own, through its mix of 1930-ish atmosphere and magic, the latter not exactly of the nice kind (even the Binding magic has its nasty side-effects). Some scenes bordered on gory and/or disturbing, and could scare younger readers, but they’re also tempered with an overall glitzy darkness, if this makes sense. We’re not given a lot of world-building, only general facts, such as the war that happened a few years ago, food shortages, people having to work in some mysterious factory, the government hiding things; I think this may or may not be a problem depending on the reader. It still worked for me, because it was reminiscent of the historical period that inspired the novel (late 1920-early 1930s Germany), and the feeling I got from this was more important than the absolute need to know everything about that world. Although I would like to know more about what exactly has been happening behind the scenes in other places than the one shown here; maybe in the next volume?

 

The characters were likeable, but not exceptional. I had the feeling that they were glossed over in parts, and that some events occurred too fast for them to really develop bonds.

Freddy and Thea, mainly, barely meet a couple of times before he tells her everything, and this wasn’t so believable. I also found myself rooting for Nan and Sigi more than anyone else, even though Nan is barely mentioned in the blurb and we’re somewhat mistakingly led to believe Thea’s the main heroine.

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On the other hand, they had touching back stories, and I was still glad to see some sort of closure for them. It made for a bittersweet ending, but I wouldn’t have seen a happy-ever-ending for such a novel.

 

As for the plot, I found the idea to

bring back dead people to life through necromancy

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brilliant; it’s so simple, it makes so much sense, and at the same time, it’s just so horribly fascinating that you don’t know in the end if you want to hug those people or put a bullet through their eyes, out of mercy, that is.

I liked that there was a severe drawback to it, that they needed the serum to function; no magic should go without its price to pay, and Freddie himself was paying it without even knowing it. The other thing I liked about his magic was how it was in fact a good magic, one made to appease people, and not to create undead armies. Arabella’s sacrifice was moving, and helped show that Freddie could also do beautiful things using his powers.

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I would however argue that things unfolded a little too quickly and easily in the last part of the book; I would’ve expected more spunk and deviousness from the villains, who went down too fast to my liking. I guess this ties with my comments about events when I mentioned the characters.

 

I’m also rather puzzled about the whole “Guardian of Fate” business; it seemed a bit like a deus ex machina, and could’ve deserved a slightly different approach.

(show spoiler)

 

 

Dark Metropolis is, as said, not devoid of flaws; but its atmosphere and its take on necromancy definitely allowed me to enjoy it.