City of Eternal Night – Kristen Painter

About the Book

Magic and mystery collide in this second installment of the new urban fantasy series by House of Comarre author Kristen Painter.

Still coming to terms with their unexpected partnership, Augustine and Harlow have a tentative truce. With Harlow slowly working to accept being fae, Augustine still learning how to be Guardian, and feelings growing on both sides though, they do not have an easy road ahead.

But when a young girl is stolen from the Mardi Gras Exemplar Ball — the biggest far event of the year — Harlow and Augustine must put all their issues aside to bring her home alive. Harlow’s father, Braziano, is of course their number one suspect, but evil lurks in every corner of the city and time is running out. Their only choices: Either find a way to rescue the girl, or Augustine must die.

436 pages (paperback)
Published on December 2, 2014
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

If I was going to make a list of the cities I am really sick of books taking place in, New Orleans would be right at the top of my list. I’m not saying that it’s a bad city. In fact, it’s kind of hard to think of a city more perfect for urban fantasy and horror. That’s what makes me so sick of it. It’s so perfect, therefore I find it in way too many books.

New Orleans in the future? That’s new. Not new enough on its own, but Painter does a great job at adding enough pizazz to make me not mind that the series takes place in New Orleans. With the addition and reminder that this takes place in the future with advanced technology and some subtle references to history (to them) and modern day events (to us), you have not only the New Orleans vibe that so many love, with a unique enough feel to make readers like me not want to throw the book across the room.

City of Eternal Night is the second book in Painter’s Crescent City series, and it vastly improves upon its already quite enjoyable predecessor. The world expands. Instead of just focusing on Augustine and Harlow, the cast has increased to involve others and the trials they are facing. This adds some much needed depth and perspective to some of the relationships that we were vaguely introduced to in the first book, as well as giving City of Eternal Night a more substantial feel.

It’s not that Harper and Augustine aren’t substantial, but adding more characters made the book feel a bit more complex and colorful, which was appreciated. More characters, and a broader plot helped Painter flesh out her world a bit more, as well as the magic system, the various and rather subtle cultural clashes, and some of the tensions that simmer just below the surface but add to the atmosphere quite a bit. In essence, broadening the narrative (and plot) didn’t just help keep me interested, but it really impacted the world building in ways that surprised me.

Harper still got on my nerves in some respects. She has a tendency to make some stupid decisions, and sometimes she can seem impossibly oblivious to the obvious. However, she’s grown a bit. For example, she’s less self-centered than she was before. She’s transforming, but slowly. She’ll be a character I never fully enjoy, and that’s okay. On the flip side, Augustine has grown in leaps and bounds, and really delighted me with how adult he seems in this novel compared to the last one. With these two rather awkwardly balanced characters, the additional characters and their various side (and core) plots are a nice juxtaposition that serve to balance City of Eternal Night out in unexpected, but necessary ways.

The world was the part of the book that delighted me the most. Painter went out of her way to make it almost overwhelmingly vibrant and real. The ball is over-the-top in a wonderful way and was a fantastic setting for much of what transpires. The cultural nuances that are dropped in here and there made me really care about this New Orleans. The culture(s) she explores are varied and quite surprising. The magic system felt more solid and easy to define. Painter took this city, and these people, and breathed some invigorating life into them.

City of Eternal Night is a mystery, and unfortunately that mystery is pretty obvious. In fact, it’s so obvious that I don’t really think that the mystery is where readers should focus their attentions, but on everything else going on. The character development and world building are marvelous, and while the mystery is pretty well figured out, there are some nice surprises throughout the book and plenty going on in the background or on the sidelines to keep any lack of mystery from being too bothersome.

The pacing tore me. Some parts felt like they dragged on a little too long, while others might have benefitted from being focused on a little longer. Perhaps the reason I felt that way was because the mystery, like I mentioned, isn’t much of a mystery, and time spent by the characters trying to figure it out felt a little unnecessary. However, that didn’t color my overall enjoyment for the novel. As I said above, there is plenty here to enjoy. A few hiccups aren’t a big deal.

The ending might bother some readers, as the cliffhanger is obviously just that: a cliffhanger. Some readers don’t enjoy that sort of thing, and others will appreciate it for the rather pivotal setup that it is. In fact, this entire novel felt like one gigantic (and rather absorbing) setup for what’s going to happen next. That’s not a bad thing. It actually ended up being quite a good thing. Painter spent so much time lovingly cultivating her city, her characters, her cultures and all those tiny details I’m such a sucker for, that the next book in the series is sure to knock my socks off.

City of Eternal Night is a solid installment to an absorbing series.


4/5 stars

One Responses

  • It IS the second novel in a series, which makes cliffhangers much less problematic for me. A cliffhanger in the first volume does annoy me, since I can’t so easily one and done a series. Cliffhangers in a second or third volume are okay, since I am investing in a series by going past one.

    Make sense?

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