Welcome to my stop on the Dark Metropolis Blog Tour, hosted by Itching For Books. You can read my review below.
Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.
Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.
Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.
Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don’t always seem to stay that way.
The nitty-gritty: An unsettling story full of subtle magic, dark deeds, and the living dead, beautifully written, but confusing in some parts.
But how horrid to be glad, even for a moment, that her mother was gone, just so she had time to try on new hats. Mother’s words kept haunting her. I know he is alive! Suppose she was right all along. Suppose Father had lived through the battle, and the vision was a sign? If there was any chance at all, she had to find out. She owed it to Mother, who was now trapped behind the asylum walls, losing her precious memories.
If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be “atmospheric.” There is a dark and brooding quality to this story, and it’s made even more dark and brooding by Dolamore’s beautiful prose. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I started reading, as I had heard all sorts of words bandied about from “zombies” to “magic” to “LGBT characters.” Dark Metropolis has all of these things—sort of—but I certainly wouldn’t classify this as your standard zombie story, nor did the LGBT aspects stand out as such. (Which disappointed me a bit. I would have liked to see a more developed relationship between Sigi (the gay character) and Nan, the girl she falls for.) Although parts of the story were confusing and not nearly developed enough for my taste, what I did love about this book were the emotional situations the characters find themselves in as they try to cope during a very dark and depressing time.
Dark Metropolis is based on the 1927 movie, Metropolis, a movie I haven’t seen, yet felt compelled to research. There are definite similarities in the story lines, but why the author chose such a depressing subject to write about is anybody’s guess. The story takes place in an alternate history 1930s Germany, where the war has caused many people to fall on hard times and magic has been outlawed. Thea is a young girl who works as a hostess at the Telephone Club, an upscale venue where the rich enjoy extravagant stage productions and are served by beauties like Thea. But Thea’s real life is anything but exciting. Her mother is suffering from “bound-sickness” since her husband died in the war, but she insists that he isn’t dead at all because she can still “feel” him.
One evening Thea meets a young man with silver hair named Freddy, and when she accidentally touches his hand, she has a disturbing vision of her father, rising from the dead. Shortly after, her best friend Nan stops coming into work, and Thea knows something is terribly wrong. With Freddy’s help, she is about to discover a world she never knew existed, a dangerous world where the dead are forced into hard labor and will never see their loved ones again.
From the outside, this doesn’t really seem like a story about magic. So when the first offhand mention of it came up, I was caught off guard. It turns out that since the war, magic has become illegal, and we discover early on that Freddy has a very rare gift: he can bring the dead back to life with only a touch, although whether these people he brings back are actually alive or not, well, you’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself. (I did love Freddy’s magic because it reminded me of Torchwood and the resurrection glove—anyone?) But Freddy isn’t the only one with magical abilities. Thea’s friend Nan also has some magic in her, but here is where things fell apart a little for me. Nan’s magic is hinted at but never really explained. We also learn about a spell called “marriage-binding” which magically links two people together so that they can always find each other. It seems like a good idea but it has terrible consequences. I guess my feeling about the author’s use of magic is that it just didn’t feel as if all these types of magic belonged together in the same story.
The pacing felt slow to me in the beginning, as we’re introduced to all the characters and trying to uncover the mystery of why so many people are disappearing, but it picks up in the last third of the book, and I was racing to turn the pages (of my Kindle) to see what would happen. Dolamore gives us lots of emotional and melancholy moments, like Thea’s mother going crazy from the bound-sickness because she wants to find her husband, and the consequences of Freddy’s reviving magic and how he comes to terms with accepting that his “magic” isn’t natural and is only causing pain. Many of the characters are downright sad, lonely, and simply trying to get by in a harsh city, and it was sometimes hard to read page after page of misery with very little happiness to break up the sadness.
Dark Metropolis is the first in a series, although honestly I can’t figure out where the author will go next, since this book wrapped up quite nicely (and no cliffhanger in sight, thank god!). If you love your stories dark, your characters tragic, and your magic subtle, then this book may be just what you need.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
About the author:
Jaclyn Dolamore was homeschooled in a hippie sort of way and spent her childhood reading as many books as her skinny nerd-body could lug from the library and playing elaborate pretend games with her sister Kate. She skipped college and spent eight years drudging through retail jobs, developing her thrifty cooking skills and pursuing a lifelong writing dream. She has a passion for history, thrift stores, vintage dresses, David Bowie, drawing, and organic food. She lives with her partner and plot-sounding-board, Dade, and two black tabbies who have ruined her carpeting.
Big thanks to Shane Morgan at Itching for Books for organizing this tour. Click the button below to visit all the tour stops: