The City’s Son – The Skyscraper Throne #1 – Tom Pollock
Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skineed dancers with glowing veins light the streets.
When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she finds Filius Viae, London’s ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most. An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St Paul’s Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love.
The City’s Son is the first book of The Skyscraper Throne: a story about family, friends and monsters, and how you can’t always tell which is which.
Meet Beth, Pen and Filius, the heroes of ‘The City’s Son’. Three very different personalities bound together in a war to save their city, London. And not just the London we see every day, it’s so much more than that. The city is alive. Everything that we perceive as inanimate is actually another living wonder that occupies the streets of London right next to us. We’re just too ignorant to see it. But one day Beth does see it. She’s always had a deeper connection to the city, tagging its walls at night, knowing every corner, every street like it’s her home. And when Beth meets Filius, the Prince of the Streets, her life changes forever. London is under attack and she’s determined to save it, whatever the cost.
I absolutely loved the world Tom Pollock created here. He made the city come to life in such a wonderful way. It’s magical. It made me think of the first time I went to Disneyland in Paris with my parents when I was just a kid and we went on the ‘It’s a small world’ attraction. Eyes wide, not knowing where to look first, all those magical things happening around you. That’s a bit how I felt reading about the London in Pollocks book. It’s imaginative, original and took me back to that amazing feeling of wonder.
That aside, The City’s Son did come across as a rather sad story to me. Almost all the characters have had to deal with a lot in their lives and most of them are still struggling to deal with them as the story continues. A lot of heavy subjects are hinted at in the background, subjects that seep in to the main story by how certain characters react, or how they see life, or what they want for their future. The City’s Son is a story that goes a lot deeper than just the magical city and the wonders that live there. It’s also very human and as I said before, sad.
What I really liked was the switching between perspectives during some important scenes near the end. The story unfolded from two different mindsets, two different views on the situation. Where one sees hope, the other sees hopelessness. I love this kind of storytelling where the tale isn’t just one sided, but we get to see the events through the eyes of more than one participant, more than one character experiencing everything his or her own way.
The ending was sublime in my opinion. It’s full of twists you wouldn’t expect and hints at a future that will not be free of struggles. It’s a very strong ending, though it might not have hit all the right strings it should have with me. One particular scene should have affected me more than it did, which is unfortunate, because it was supposed to be a very strong, emotional scene.
I really liked this story, but I did miss some sort of deeper connection to it. The characters, though solidly build and certainly fleshed out really good, couldn’t make me fall in love with them all the way. It wasn’t until I was nearing the end that I somehow came to appreciate them. That’s a bit of a bummer, but not enough to make me dislike this book. I actually enjoyed reading it very much and I’m looking forward to reading the second book, ‘The Glass Republic’, that’s got raving reviews so far.
A book with its ups and downs, but overall very enjoyable and worth a read for anyone who wants to discover a whole new side of London.