Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for sending me a finished copy for review! I was lucky enough to receive a manuscript of Diamond City back in 2019 and fell in love with this series. This may contain spoilers to the first book, Diamond City, but will not contain spoilers from Shadow City.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy and without further ado, here are my thoughts!
Shadow City by Francesca Flores
Published: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
The stunning action-packed conclusion to The City of Diamond and Steel duology.
Aina Solís has fought her way to the top of criminal ranks in the city of Kosín by wresting control of an assassin empire owned by her old boss, Kohl. She never has to fear losing her home and returning to life on the streets again—except Kohl, the man who tried to ruin her life, will do anything to get his empire back. Aina sets out to kill him before he can kill her.
But Alsane Bautix, the old army general who was banned from his seat in the government after Aina revealed his corruption, is working to take back power by destroying anyone who stands in his way. With a new civil war on the horizon and all their lives at risk, the only way for Aina to protect her home is to join up with the only other criminal more notorious than her: Kohl himself.
As Bautix’s attacks increase, Aina and Kohl work together to stop his incoming weapons shipments and his plans to take back the Tower of Steel. To defeat them both, Aina will resort to betrayal, poison, and a deadly type of magic that hasn’t been used in years.
Through narrow alleys, across train rooftops, and deep in the city’s tunnels, Aina and Kohl will test each other’s strengths and limits, each of them knowing that once Bautix is dead, they’ll still have to face each other. If she manages to kill him, she’ll finally have the freedom she wants—but it might forever mark her as his shadow in a city where only the strongest survive.
To start off, I read a manuscript of Diamond City on August 6, 2019 after winning an advance copy from Goodreads back in April 2019… so it’s been a while since I read the first book. And, since it was a manuscript, there might have been a lot of changes between that draft and the final version.
With that thought in mind, I loved this sequel. Flores takes us back to Kosín after Aina has managed to steal the Dom out from under Kohl’s nose and Bautix is fighting for control. I have always loved Aina as a character and loved the premise of a guild of assassins working together to take over the city. It’s just such a cool premise. Mix that with some blood magic and I’m sold!
As we move along with the story, I had to remember who certain characters were. We have Teo and Tannis – friends of Aina who followed her when she took over the Dom. Ryuu, who’s brother was the catalyst for the action-packed events that lead to Aina’s showdown with Kohl. And of course, Beautix – a Steel politician working to take over control of the city.
I think I got the main cast there! After strolling down memory lane (which did take me a few chapters to catch up), I could focus on the main plot. While I was screaming at the book for Aina not to trust Kohl and work with him, unfortunately the characters couldn’t hear me. I had to watch Aina make all the classic mistakes and just suffer through it. I was not happy.
But along with this suffering came romance that I was not expecting, but loved nonetheless! I really liked how Flores set up Aina’s love life and gave her some decent options. In between the romance and the deception, was all of the action. I love the way Flores writes her fight scenes. They feel so intense and I catch myself holding my breath as Aina fights her way through every situation.
Overall, I really loved this sequel and I was happy with
almost everything that happened in the book! I can’t wait to read more from her and while I’m sad that Aina’s story is over, I thought it ended in a blaze of glory, fit for our assassin queen!
If assassin queens and blazes of glory are your thing, be sure to check out The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae.
One thing I wasn’t too happy about though, was: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
SPOILERS START HERE!!!
I hated how she used deus ex-machina (divine intervention) to bring Teo back to life. I was heartbroken when he died but I kinda wanted him to remain dead. It would have made the ending that much more intense. It feels like Aina got her cake and ate it too. Maybe that’s sadistic, but it’s true.