City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

city of dark magic

2 out of 5 stars.

Welp, that was disappointing. It is all dolled up to look like a science fiction/ fantasy and it ends up being a murder mystery/ thriller. I kind of feel cheated.

Our protagonist is a horny (this is a surprisingly large part of her personality) but otherwise bland Beethoven scholar named Sarah Weston. She is hired for the summer to catalogue a group of Beethoven scores and memorabilia that is part of a larger private collection in Prague. Her mentor committed suicide earlier working on the same project. She goes and is quickly convinced her mentor did not commit suicide but was killed. She is now surrounded by fellow academics, all of whom could be a murderer.

This books was a  messy hodgepodge of a large number of different elements. Part of the book is a mystery around the Beethoven artifacts, with Sarah uncovering new elements in the collection that redefine her understanding of the composer. Another part is a science fiction plot with time travelling drugs that may or may not be driving people mad. The third part is a thriller surrounding the “suicide” of the Beethoven Professor. The fourth is a political thriller involving a US senator being a former FBI spy during the Cold War. The fifth (and my favourite), is Sarah’s relationship with a blind child prodigy piano player. Any one of these elements, or at most two, could have made an interesting book, but as it is, none of them were properly explored enough to be interesting. There was way too much going on in this book, and the elements were disparate enough that combining them would have taken a huge amount of finesse and a ton of room. I found this book confusing and pulling in too many direction. The science fiction elements seem thrown in just for kicks, and we could have completely done without the Senator and the KGB plot line.

Our protagonist did not have much memorable about her (besides her first group dinner in Prague involving her being fingered under the table and then sexed up in the washroom with one of her new coworkers). Her only passions are sex and Beethoven, and neither of them are explored enough to make her a real character. The other scholars are thrown at us too quickly to really distinguish them as people. The only way I could try to keep track is that one has a ridiculous accent and one really liked weapons. They are not fleshed out and there are too many in a short amount of time for them to be remembered.

If you are looking for something that covers a huge range of genres, maybe pick this up. I would not recommend it though.

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