Review: Black City Saint (Black City Saint #1) by Richard A. Knaak

June 10, 2016 Review 0

Review: Black City Saint (Black City Saint #1) by Richard A. KnaakBlack City Saint by Richard A. Knaak
Series: Black City Saint #1
Published by Pyr on March 1, 2016
Genres: Adult, Romantic, Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 390
Source: Publisher
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Kate
3 Stars

For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

BLACK CITY SAINT is a dense urban fantasy that's got a lot going for it. It's fairly original, being set in the 1920s instead of modern day, and the juxtaposition of the Christian tradition with the fae mythology is interesting, to say the least. However, BLACK CITY SAINT was difficult to get through at times and where the world-building succeeded, the character development failed.

If you know me at all, you know I can't pass up any book set in Chicago. So when BLACK CITY SAINT came along, I knew I had to give it a try. And I wasn't disappointed - BLACK CITY SAINT uses Chicago scenery and history to its advantage, giving a reader familiar with Chicago the ability to place various scenes in the book.

Nick, as the main character, read like an old-school detective, only missing the typical office with his name on the door. And honestly, had the book been about Nick and his travails throughout Chicago banishing creatures of fairy, the book might have been better. The unfortunate addition was the wholly boring female love interest (I'm avoiding names to avoid spoilers). Mostly she was clingy and had little to no personality, with the only explanation of Nick's feelings for her that she was the reincarnation of his past love, Cleolinda. I could definitely have done without her.

BLACK CITY SAINT meanders along, managing to both have action and feel like nothing is happening at the same time, until about the last tenth of the book. I'll be honest, it did take me three months to read, but it held my interest and every time I picked it up it was easy to slip back into Nick's world. The thing that bothered me most about BLACK CITY SAINT was that I felt like it was trying to do and be too much. Urban fantasy is genre fiction, and BLACK CITY SAINT almost seemed like it was trying to be literary fiction (though I really have no evidence to suggest this, other than what I felt when I read the book).

I would suggest BLACK CITY SAINT to those who like their urban fantasy a bit more upscale, who value originality of world-building over character development, and who are looking for something a bit different in the crowded urban fantasy field. While I'll likely be sucked in to book two, (Chicago does it for me every time) it's not something I'm particularly waiting with bated breath for.


Series Titles:
  1. Black City Saint
More Reviews: Similar Titles:
  • For more urban fantasy set in Chicago with a male protagonist, check out The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
  • For another series set in the 1920s, try the Roaring Twenties series by Jenn Bennett.
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