The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods #1) by Tara Sim

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Slow pacing and overly long


City of Dusk is a book that I wanted to love, a dark adult fantasy with fascinating worldbuilding and noble houses whose heirs are descendents of the Gods.  Unfortunately, I think my expectations going into this one may have muddied the water a little, I was so excited to pick it up and as with most of my reads these days I went into this one with very little knowledge beforehand so the fall from ‘up on a pedestal’ to ‘considering not finishing the book at all’ felt like a long way down  In fact I left off writing this review for a few days to give my mind time to absorb what I’ve read but in actual fact the delayed period in between completion and now has probably only served to heighten my confusion and mixed feelings.

This is a story of four heirs, all potentially in line to become the next ruler and therefore in competition with each other.  At the same time, the world on which they live is starting to suffer all sorts of shortages.  500 years ago the ‘Sealing’ took place, closing off the city from the other godly realms leaving them unable to trade, etc.  On top of the political vying between the four noble houses there are a number of strange occurences that are causing huge problems.  A group of Conjurors are undertaking practices that have been banned for many years and as a result the world is suffering from the repercussions.  The four heirs tentatively team up to try and figure out how to open up the realms again.

So, we have four realms, life, death, light and dark.  Each realm has a God and each God is represented by a noble house (the nobles actually descend from the Gods), each house has an heir with their own particular brand of magic.  There is Risha, a necromancer descended from the God of death, Angelica, an elementalist who really struggles with her ability to wield magic, Taesia, not actually the heir to her noble house but who has strong magic and can wield shadow magic with skill and Nik, from the house of light who also struggles to fulfil his role having had to step into the shoes of his older brother who died in a tragic accident.  

There are a number of povs represented during the story.  For me, I felt it was a little too much and although I understand the desire to give readers a bird’s eye view of what’s going on it also sometimes results in rather shallow characters and a certain level of repetition.  Taesia is focused on more than the other characters and as a result her arc is a little stronger although at the same time it feels rushed in certain respects.

My main issues are a bit complicated.  I liked the style of writing and yet I felt the story dragged its feet and for the actual length of the book I  felt everything was a little vague, to such an extent that I find myself with more questions than answers about the world, the Sealing, the noble houses and the Conjurors.  The characters themselves felt really young and this gave the story a YA feel to me rather than a dark adult fantasy but having said that I can’t recall is this was marketed as YA or adult.  The world itself lacks the complexity that you would expect from adult fantasy and yet at the same time it’s frustratingly confused. The realms, for example, all now sealed with the Gods prevented from any interaction and yet all the noble houses are shut in this one realm?  Why? Perhaps I missed something with that particular question but it is puzzling me.  There’s mention of the City suffering from shortages but the timeframe doesn’t add up – I think the shortages would have been a lot more obvious a lot sooner.  I was puzzled why the King and the noble houses rely so heavily on the heirs – I mean are there no advisors in this world, why aren’t the people with experience actually helping to solve some of the problems, why is a young, untested man put in charger of a major investigation (unless to see him fail)?  It all feels a little bit skimmed over.  I’m not going to go any further, basically, I think I’ve gone into over-critical mode.

To be fair to the author, as mentioned above, I like the style of writing however this felt like it was more aimed at a YA audience and whilst I do read the occasional YA they tend to be few and far between and I often find myself slightly irritated by the surface level of information.  

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating is 2.5 of 5 stars




13 Responses to “The City of Dusk (The Dark Gods #1) by Tara Sim”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I’ve already seen a couple of not-so-enthusiastic reviews about this one, so I believe that I will skip it: I’m sorry it proved such a letdown from your expectations…

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, maybe my expectations were too high going in.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Peter Martuneac

    That’s a shame, what a gorgeous cover though.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is a shame. I wanted to love it and I think there are lots of glowing reviews so this could just be a ‘me not you’ thing. The cover is lovely.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I started this then stopped, but I’m getting back to it tonight. The parts I’ve read so far seemed fine, so I’m curious to see how I’ll fare with rest.

  4. Susy's Cozy World

    I am currently reading this, and I think that your review would express my feelings for it, too. I have read about 40% of it, so maybe I would change my mind but I am not holding my breath here, sigh! I was mildly curious when thisbook started appearing around, then became increasingly curious until I read a review that pushed all the right buttons. After that I requested it and when they approved me (yay!) I had to drop everything and start it. But it is so slooooooow! And definitely a YA. (I don’t have anything against YA but I prefer adult fantasy). And confusing in some parts… Sigh!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I don’t have anything against YA but I find sometimes it just is too skimpy on the detail I want. I hope it picks up for you.
      Lynn 😀

  5. pagesandtea

    It’s a shame this didn’t work out for you, hope you’re enjoying whatever you’re reading now more. Don’t think I’ll be adding this to my TBR list, which is already massive 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, you might love it of course. I think maybe I had too high expectations.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I’m actually in the middle of this right now so I kind of skimmed your review especially after seeing your rating – lol. It did start off slow for me, but it’s getting a little better. I’m hoping the upward trend continues for me!

  7. @lynnsbooks

    Yeah, you might love it of course. I think maybe I had too high expectations.
    Lynn 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s