Release Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Chicken House
Source: Copy provided by publisher for review
Ancient myth collides with modern technology in this gripping urban fantasy.
London. Present day. Girls are disappearing. And strange things are roaming the streets. When sixteen-year-old Lily is attacked by a two-headed dog, she's saved by hot, tattooed, and not-quite-human Regan. As Guardian of the Gates, it's his job to protect both halves of the City--new and old--from restless creatures that threaten its very existence. But an influx of these mythological beasts has Regan worried that something terrible--and immense--is about to happen.
The missing girls may have something to do with the monsters wandering around London, but what do they have in common? Can Lily and Regan find the girls and discover the truth in time to save London from being torn apart?
City of Halves presents an interesting premise and the wall and gates remind me a bit of Stardust. In this novel, there is a side of London that often goes unnoticed by most folks, but what a side it is! Creatures from myths and fantasy roam around--and more than a few cause trouble. Being a big fan of mythology and folklore, I was intrigued by this idea, but was also admittedly a bit worried after reading the synopsis that Lily would just play a damsel in distress after discovering this secret side of London. Thankfully it wasn't so! Although Lily needed saving several times (and occasionally I wish she had thought things through before charging in rather blindly!), she wasn't afraid of action. I appreciated her curiosity and willingness to get answers and to help!
I have to remark, however, that for someone who's been guarding the city and its gates in secrecy, Regan gives his secrets up very easily! After saving Lily, it takes only a little bit of prying on her part before Regan begins letting her in on London's mysteries. Even more surprising is how quickly he let Lily tag along and help! Given the importance of his work, his long tenure with the job, and the lengths he and his colleagues go to protect the city from the elements of the 'other half,' I expected Regan to act with a bit more caution.
Early on, there's a lot of lengthy explanations. While I understand that the scene must be set, I think it would have been more exciting if the information was discovered in different ways--maybe a few more hands-on experiences, discovering things from old folklore books and the like. The first encounter Lily and readers get with the paranormal side of London is through an action-packed scene. It drew me in and had me curious about what other secrets London may be hiding, but a great deal of this information ended up being presented via spoken explanations by Regan, which I felt was a bit of a come down after all that action! Thankfully there were quite a few more action scenes later on in the book, but I found a few of them a bit hard to follow; a few more details would have made it easier to picture these scenes with more clarity.
The idea of having a secret side of London that's filled with mythological creatures is fascinating to me. However, I feel that a there are perhaps too many characters introduced in City of Halves. There is certainly an abundance and variety of creatures and characters, but few are given enough screen time for us to get to know them. I, for one, am disappointed in this as I'm sure many of them have fascinating back stories and could enrich the story (and world) further! Some characters, both human and paranormal, feel like throwaways and others, despite their importance to the story, feel undeveloped. Lily's father and her friend Sam seemed flat--the latter felt like she was just introduced as an afterthought. Additionally, although Regan is portrayed as a very private person, I was definitely hoping to learn a more about his back story. If there's a sequel, I hope we'll get a bigger glimpse into his and his family's past!
Overall, I enjoyed reading City of Halves. Although the writing was uneven at times and some of the characters could have been fleshed out more, the plot and world were both very interesting. I was turning pages late into the night to see what would happen next!
Overall: 3.75 out of 5
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 3.25 stars
Writing: 3.25 stars
Cover: 3.5 stars