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New Treasures: The Monstrous Citadel by Mirah Bolender

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The Monstrous Citadel-small The Monstrous Citadel-back-small

Cover art by Tony Mauro

I found Mirah Bolender’s debut novel City of Broken Magic waiting for me when I got home from the World Fantasy Convention last year. I liked the premise quite a bit — a city in which a understaffed bomb squad must deal with leathly deadly weapons left over from a long-forgotten war. Liz Bourke at Tor.com summarized it nicely:

City of Broken Magic sets itself in a secondary fantasy world where humans live huddled into well-defended cities. Hundreds of years before the novel’s beginning, a colonised people tried to fight back against their colonisers by creating a weapon that ate magic. They succeeded a little too well, creating something that can hatch from broken or empty magical amulets and that can consume everything in its path. These infestations, as they’re known, are extremely dangerous and require specialised knowledge and equipment to combat. The people who do this job are known as “Sweepers,” and their mortality rate can be high…

The novel’s worldbuilding, in the form of infestations and the social response to it, is its big idea. City of Broken Magic is the story of an emergency response unit, and in narrative and stylistic terms, it feels one part thriller, one part procedural, and one part professional coming-of-age for its viewpoint character. Bolender writes action very well, building tension into every escalating encounter with infestations… City of Broken Magic is a fast-paced, exciting ride. And an entertaining one.

The book earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Monsters are threatening to take over the city of Amicae. The government has convinced residents that the monsters can’t get in, but Clae and Laura know that isn’t true. They are Sweepers, the only people in the city qualified to fight the monsters… they take on mobsters, corrupt businessmen, and a deliberately skewed cultural narrative, culminating in a fight to protect their city from its own refusal to accept reality. Amicae’s strict caste system is expertly woven into the fast-paced plot that will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

The sequel, The Monstrous Citadel, the second novel in the Chronicles of Amicae, sees the Sweepers face new threats, including gangs, ungrateful bureaucrats, and the grasping ambition of Rex, the City of Kings, which breeds its own monsters. The Monstrous Citadel was published by Tor on November 5, 2019. It is 415 pages, priced at $18.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 in digital versions. The cover art is by Tony Mauro. Read Chapter One of from City of Broken Magic here, and a lengthy excerpt at the Tor-Forge Blog. See all our recent New Treasures here.

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