Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense.
Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.
Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s "Immortal Beloved", she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a 400-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.
City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel - or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.
©2012 Magnus Flyte (P)2012 Penguin Audiobooks
The narrator used poor at best, and offensive at worst, accents. Several of her pronuciations were very distracting, especially "muzam" for museum.
The gratuitous sex scenes were completely out of place and only distracted from the narrative.
The premise was so promising that the poor execution was even more disappointing. The main character is a strange amalgamation of serious academic and 'party-girl' undergraduate with extremely questionable judgement.
I read the book in paperback first and couldn't WAIT to give it a listen. There was so much fun dialogue in the book, I thought the narrated version would for sure be a home run. Maybe it's just me, but the narrator's speaking voice didn't at all match the character description, the only accent that she performed with any inflection was the Texan accent. Throughout the rest of the book, all the characters sound exactly the same. I was really disappointed because there was so much potential. I wish they would have hired Jennifer Ikeda (A Discovery of Witches) to perform this book. She does a fantastic job of keeping characters alive and all individual.
I'm a fan of Sci-fi, fantasy and suspense. I like books that keep me guessing till the end.
What this story could have been is exciting and far more entertaining than it was. The sex scenes were sometimes graphics and actually took away from the story, rather than adding to it. While the premise seemed entertaining, by the end of the book I was listening to it on triple speed.
Had some really interesting information on Beethoven, and I actually liked the historical intrigue. Where it failed was delivering on all of the sub-plots and MOST of the mystery.
Don't read if you don't want a major plot-point ripped apart.
So there is some sort of inter-dimensional hell portal that is brought up a number of times. And then is just used as a convenient dump. It was disappointing that there was more (poorly written) sex, for no apparent reason other than the heroine is possibly a victim of nymphomania, and very little on what would have been really interesting. It was not the worst book I have listened to, but I would not listen to it again.
The sprinked-in sex is not at all neccessary, nor does it add to the story. It makes the characters more flat.
The relations to actual history, especially music, is novel and believable. The description of prague is great and makes one feel really there. The romance is boring, the bad-guy in the story too simple.
The characters are good and distinguishable, I really like the accents she manages to speak with.
Well, Tom Hanks, if he were a woman -- it is sort of Da Vinci Codish...
The good guys are well drawn and get a character. The bad guys are a bit in contrast to that, more flat and a bit obvious. The story itself is build quite straight, too. The author lays out secrets in the beginning of the book and resolved them one by one in the end, more or less believable. Quite a straight story with few surprises.
From the title I somehow expected a bit more fantasy-style, but it is not much so. The Magic in the title relates more to what I would call Mysticism.
Perhaps a person who like really "quirky" books.
Does this book have a genre? It was like 4 different books combined into one book. Almost like it was written by multiple authors. It was so....busy.There is a fairly weak version of the classic "search for a lost historical object" narrative at the center of this book. The subplots will make your head spin: a cold war spy story, a snarky immortal story, an American abroad story,"whodunnit," alchemy, time travel, and hell portal--just to name a few.
I usually shake my head at reviewers who complain about the performance. Some actors are definitely better than others, but I never believed that a poor performance could actually make a book less enjoyable. Until now. This performer often sounded like a computer generated voice--a robot. In addition, her accents were often so poor that I laughed out loud.
The book was audacious. I saw it through to the end because I just wanted to see what else the author was going to throw at me. In addition, it did all come together at the end--the author accounted for every piece.
I was reading this book in paperback and listening to the audio version when my eyes got tired at night. What a treat it was to switch over to the audio version! We all do voices in our head, but having them really come alive in the audio version was fantastic!
The book was well narrated and the story includes everything a reader would want, and somethings you didn't know you wanted. I'm not a huge classical music buff, but I really enjoyed learning a little more about Beethoven during this book. Even though this is fictitious, I could totally see this happening. The story is full of information, intrigue, sex, drama, and murder. What more could you want?!
I really hope that the author continues to write books because I loved the story. It was kind of like the Davinci Code, but much more fun to read and listen to.
It's in a category along with Deborah Harkness' books, Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night.
I enjoyed that the author historical facts into the fantasy in a seamless way to evoke a truly possible existence! I can't wait for the next book from this author!
I like mysteries (particularly British ones, historical fiction and nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.
I remember reading that Magnus Flyte, a collaboration by two women, was chosen by the two as their pseudonym because they thought men would be more likely to buy their book if the author's name was masculine. I don't intend to discuss this aspect of the book, but I will say that if the authors had wanted to sell more books to guys they should have labeled this as science fiction rather than the vague references to magic and fantasy in the descriptions.
The point of view character, Sarah, is a student musicologist with an interest in how the mind reacts to music, specifically the music of Beethoven. She discusses with her roommate the theory of dark matter and the development of science with regard to the brain. Then a dwarf shows up at her door with a pillbox that seems to have a toenail clipping in it.
Sounds interesting. And it probably would have been if the authors were more capable in handling their material. Prague is a fascinating location with history, that at times is used effectively. However they decide to create a villain that could not have been less nuanced. I don't care what the villain's politics were, at least give me something that is more than mustache twirling evil. The interesting characters are all tangential. I could definitely spent more time with the Asian-Texan, lesbian, twirler beauty queen.
I never believed in the romance either, mainly because the other party never felt as real as as the character mentioned above or the dwarf Nicco (trouble with audible books, I'm not sure how his name is spelled.)
I'll look at their next book to see if these two are going to go after easy genre tropes or explore the more interesting concepts that they came up with in this book.
The narrator was competent but not much more except when it came to pronouncing tongue twisting names with great authority.
After reading the description, I held off on buying this book for a while because it just sounded too silly to be good. I'm glad I snagged it during the post-holiday sale, because I actually really enjoyed it. In a way, it reminds me of Christopher Moore, especially "Sacre Bleu" - the characters and situations are a little bit ridiculous, yet somehow also real enough to be convincing and draw you into the story. The description also makes it sound like "chick-lit", which it is definitely NOT - the clothes and shoes described here are strictly historical. There is a romance plot line but it's not what drives the story. Anyway, this will probably be my go-to gift book for a while - it's a fun, fast-paced, slightly madcap, entertaining listen.
more like 3 1/2. This was weirdly interesting. Kind of all over the place but in the end it worked well enough that I'll read the next one. I'm not sure I was in love with the narrator enough to listen to another, I'll have to think about it, but I will read it. I think what I liked most were the characters. The plot was odd but as I say interesting.
"Not what I expected, it was better."
There are certainly areas of Prague that inspire thoughts of magic. It seems as if the many spires and churches don't only jostle for space with modern glass structures but with time itself and the authors of this book manage to use all the intriguing aspects of Prague's architecture and it's colourful history as a back drop for a great novel.
The Beethoven obsessed protagonist Charlotte has a lot of character, she doesn't seem particularity appreciative of her surrounding, expect perhaps the 'sexy stabber' statue at the gate, but she's sassy and likeable.
The book doesn’t contain the sort of 'magic' some readers might expect, but alchemy, time travel, intrigue, secret tunnels could never disappoint so if you enjoy a good mystery with twist then this book is well worth a listen.
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