Book Review: City of Lies by Sam Hawke

Monday, August 13, 2018

Title: City of Lies
Author: Sam Hawke
Series: Poison Wars #1
Publication Date: 30th July 2018

Synopsis: "I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...

Only a handful of people in Silasta know Jovan's real purpose in life. To most, he is just another son of the ruling class. The quiet, forgettable friend of the Chancellor's charming, irresponsible heir. In reality, Jovan has been trained for most of his life to detect, concoct and withstand poisons in order to protect the ruling family. His sister Kalina is too frail to share in their secret family duty. While other women of the city hold positions of power and responsibility, her path is full of secrets and lies - some hidden even from her own brother.

Until now, peace has reigned in Silasta for hundreds of years. But when the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army storms the gates, the so-called Bright City is completely unprepared. It falls to Jovan and Kalina to protect the heir and save their homeland - but first they must make their way through a new world of unexpected treachery, a world where the ancient spirits are rising... and angry."

My thoughts: This one turned up unsolicited on my doorstep and I liked the look of it, so I dove in. And my goodness, was this a ride. Hawke manages to maintain amazing levels of tension through the book - which is no mean feat, considering the book clocks in at 560 pages. 

Hawke takes you on a ride, with a wonderful cast of characters that feature some simply brilliant and very needed representation - Jovan suffers from compulsions that he has trouble breaking, and Kalina seems to have to deal with a chronic illness that often leaves her exhausted, whilst still needing to get things done - a trade-off that I am all too familiar with. I really adored the representation in this book: I feel hard-pressed to think of a fantasy book featuring a main female character with chronic illness of any kind.

I find it really hard to believe that this is Sam Hawke's first book: if this is what her first book is like, I can barely imagine what the next one will be! And I will definitely be along for the ride. As long as I space chapters out a bit - the tension can wear on me a little sometimes!

{I received a review copy of this book from Bantam Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: "Duty takes precedence over all else, and I knew what it meant to fail at it far better than my brother ever could. There had been no time spared to comfort me all those years ago when we all realized my body couldn't tolerate the life of a proofer; I'd simply recovered from another health crisis to find my Tashi's time devoted instead to my small brother."

You would like this book if: You love fantasy that doesn't shy away from mystery, intrigue, political plot devices, and murder, oh, and poisonings!; you crave some chronic illness representation in your fantasy!

Tea to drink while reading this book: Check your tea twice for telltale scents or tastes, or brew a poison of your own... (Seriously, don't brew poison though. Perhaps some peppermint instead to soothe your stomach?)

Rating:  9/10

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