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City of Broken Magic

Chronicles of Amicae, Book 1
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
Length: 14 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Mirah Bolender's fast-paced, adventure fantasy debut, City of Broken Magic, features a bomb squad that defuses magic weapons.

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Five hundred years ago, magi created a weapon they couldn’t control. An infestation that ate magic - and anything else it came into contact with. Enemies and allies were equally filling.

Only an elite team of non-magical humans, known as sweepers, can defuse and dispose of infestations before they spread. Most die before they finish training.

Laura, a new team member, has stayed alive longer than most. Now, she’s the last - and only - sweeper standing between the city and a massive infestation.

©2018 Mirah Bolender (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • r.
  • 12-15-18

Good listen

This is an enjoyable listen. The characters are interesting and the details of the story maintained my interest throughout.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A stunning story that begs for a sequel

City of Broken Magic is a fantastic production. The depth of the world creation is stunning. There is multiple cities, mythology, languages, religion, etc. The story is extremely well crafted. Despite a 14 hour listen time, it kept me in rapt attention and never felt like there was any fluff in the story. In fact, it feels like the story is far from over. Many of the story arcs were resolved, but there is still one huge event that demands a sequel. I can't wait to hear more from this author!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Needs a lot of work

I hate to be critical of things like this, but I feel that in this case it would be disingenuous of me to not be honest.

I was immediately pulled in by the blurb. I heard the concept and couldn't wait to dive in. It was disappointing pretty quickly.

So, I'll start off with what I liked. The idea of a magical clean up crew is great. At its core, there is potential with the story. And at least initially, the descriptions of the infestations are sufficiently scary. And as far as the narration is concerned, Natalie Naudus does a fine job, no one can be upset with performance, but to be fair it feels like she wasn't given a lot of direction or notes. There are multiple instances where certain words aren't emphasized or something along those lines, and hearing it in context with everything else, it feels like a handful of notes might have really improved the flow. This isn't something to pin on the narrator, however, this feels like a directorial issue.

Unfortunately, that is about it for the praise I can give. The issues I have:

World building: At first this seemed like it was going to be the highlight of the book, but as it went on it became a mess. I get that it's trying to be its own thing, which is commendable, but the lack of consistency makes it difficult to be immersed in the world.

Plotting: I say this and I swear I'm not trying to be mean, but what plotting? I never got a clear sense of the overall story. It was one event that was an excuse for the next event. For an audiobook that is over 14 hours long, I would expect a lot of story. There's a thing about writing. When you write a novel, you get as many words as you want and you can use any words you like and you can put them in any order. But for better or worse, they're your words. This book decided to use a whole lot of them, and it felt like none of them were used towards a coherent plot.

Characters: Your three main characters here are the wide eyed girl who has her dream job but also hates it, the cool guy who is too cool to ever be cool to anyone, and the slave that the cool guy literally took as payment. The author tried to paint it as a gray area, but at the same time I winced and heard myself sucking my teeth. There were better ways of introducing this character but they went with this one, so, okay. But beyond that, none of them were particularly interesting or likable. Even when they would try, for example, by showing off the young womans family, they would almost immediately burn that goodwill on something pointless.

Action: It was just so repetitive. The prologue to the book shows something super creepy and there's a part of you that will get excited. And then you will quickly learn it wasn't that important and that scene gets repeated. Writing action is a weak spot for this writer, and I think they could use some study before moving forward.

Exposition: Dear god, I honestly felt like they might have been messing with me. at the literal halfway point, the author decided that the story might have been a little confusing, so we get a MASSIVE information dump. Show wasn't working, so they went with Tell. A little exposition is fine, but this felt like a parody of itself. This was maybe the biggest sin of the book.

I have more issues, but I don't want to beat up on the book too badly. That said, I was confused when I saw that this was listed as a Kirkus recommended reading for the month of November. Then I went to look up the review itself there, since Kirkus is usually a trusted source, and I think that the listing suggestion might have been paid advertising since the review itself wasn't too flattering. I noticed there was a LOT of marketing behind this book, but I think that money could have been better spent on editing and development.

I think the bottom line for me on this is that it very much feels like someone's first novel if they haven't worked their way up to it, and I think that's exactly what it is. It's a good idea with poor execution and with a lot of content editing might have even made for a good story. That said, if Mirah Bolender releases a second book, I'd be inclined to give it a second chance. Because poor writing aside, mistakes and odd choices and all, there is a good idea in here, and good ideas should always be fostered. A good idea is the one thing in writing that you can't teach. But in order for a good idea to translate to a good book, the mechanics need to be sound.

I know this review will come off as harsh, but my genuine hope for the next book is that the author takes a good, long look at what didn't work here and manages to correct their course. Maybe studying other fantasy books and understanding why story structure is important, how to give the characters more depth, and just overall how to turn their idea into a story.

But more than that, I hope the author releases another book and doesn't give up. The first step towards being good is admitting that you need to get better. Mirah Bolender already has the intangible: Good ideas. So there's nowhere to go but up.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful