Review of City of York (Kingdom in Darkness, #1), by A. Person

I received a paperback copy of City of York from the author, A. Person.

Description from Goodreads:

The Kingdom has been around for as long as mud has been on the planet. Magic abounds—and dragons are its physical manifestation. Once vibrant and proud, they now live in varying states of depression after having their wings clipped. New dragons have not been created since that fateful day, and the magical force has only dwindled with the passing of each dragon.

The Community, the residents of the Kingdom, are no longer the dominant beings in the world. They have ceded that title to humans, or as they inconsiderately call them, Cromies. To ensure the Kingdom’s survival, the Council of Elders made the monumental decision to concentrate all the magic in one place: New York City. From the far corners of the world, the Exodus occurred. Dubbed the City of York by this mythical Community, here they all follow the Order to stay concealed and not bring harm to the general population. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants at large, the Community lives among them.

In the present day, Emily and her friends Cat and James run a start-up news organization. Their quest to inform the public has them unexpectedly crossing paths with members of the Community. When it is discovered that they have an affinity to magic, they are all provided guides, and they immerse themselves in this hidden world.

A motley cast of additional characters is encountered along the way. Prominent among them is Hollister McAvoy, who is a magically made billionaire. He has harnessed the power emanated by dragons and brought cheap, renewable energy to the city. While the Cromies rejoice, he continues to work toward his ultimate objective. There is an age-old prophecy that foretells the dawn of a magical revival. With access to money and technology, he aims to fulfill it by creating prosthetic wings and returning dragons to their former prestige. Can the Kingdom remain in darkness when dragons once again fly?

Review:

Reviewing this book is difficult for me. So, I’m going to start with a note. I accepted a copy of this book from the author for review. Unfortunately, there was some time between when I got the initial email and when I investigated the book on Goodreads to see if I wanted to read it. The result was that I missed the fact that though “Emily and her friends Cat and James run a start-up news organization” they are in fact teenaged journalist. (In all fairness, Person’s email did say this, but I depended on the book blurb in the moment.)

This means that I expected an adult fantasy book, but found myself reading a lower young adult (almost middle grade) book. One with a tendency to purposefully mix metaphors and spells with names like bye-bye boo-boo. I was not pleased with this discovery. Of course, that’s not the book’s fault. But I mention it because it 100% affected my enjoyment in reading it and I think it would be unfair to not mention it.

Outside of the disappointment around genre, I found the book to have too many characters, depend too heavily on its quirkiness, and lack a satisfying conclusion. That’s not to say it was without positives. If you do enjoy silly witticisms, this will be right up your alley. The world the book builds is interesting, the writing is clean and it’s well-edited.

I think, sadly, this is just a case of the wrong book for the wrong reader. A tween-slash-lower teen would probably really enjoy it. With that in mind, I intend to see if my 13yo would like to read it (maybe even review it) and then I’ll put it in the Little Free Library.

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