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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 an 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.


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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 an 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.

30 review for Shadow City

  1. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    We have a release date. We have a cover. I have an ARC!!!! Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books. You're too good to me! We have a release date. We have a cover. I have an ARC!!!! Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books. You're too good to me!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Only the strong survive in Aina’s world and she has proven she has what it takes to survive and thrive as an assassin in a world where fear is power and power controls the streets. She has control, but it is tentative and the bullseye on her back is large. Can she outwit and outlast those who would betray her, those who have betrayed her already? SHADOW CITY by Francesca Flores slams home an incredible ending to this duology with true grit and incredible storytelling! Non-stop action, emotional a Only the strong survive in Aina’s world and she has proven she has what it takes to survive and thrive as an assassin in a world where fear is power and power controls the streets. She has control, but it is tentative and the bullseye on her back is large. Can she outwit and outlast those who would betray her, those who have betrayed her already? SHADOW CITY by Francesca Flores slams home an incredible ending to this duology with true grit and incredible storytelling! Non-stop action, emotional and gut-churning, this tale is filled with twists, shadowed dangers and characters that come to life with no question of what side of the fence they are on. Page after page of intense scenes, be prepared to become part of the sights, sounds and intrigue around every corner! I was invited to receive a complimentary ARC edition from St. Martin's & Wednesday's Books! This is my honest and voluntary review. Series: The City of Diamonds and Steel - Book 2 Publisher : Wednesday Books (January 26, 2021) Genre: YA Dark Fantasy | Dystopian Print Length : 400 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    This is the sequel and final book in The City of Diamond and Steel duology. It picks up pretty soon after the first book ended, with Aina and Tannis taking over Kohl's trade house. War is on the horizon, now that Beautix has been exposed, he's gearing up to take over the country. Kohl returns to Aina and asks her to ally with him to take the general down and despite her reluctance, she agrees. From the beginning I didn't believe Kohl and wanted Aina to refuse his alliance. Unfortunately, even th This is the sequel and final book in The City of Diamond and Steel duology. It picks up pretty soon after the first book ended, with Aina and Tannis taking over Kohl's trade house. War is on the horizon, now that Beautix has been exposed, he's gearing up to take over the country. Kohl returns to Aina and asks her to ally with him to take the general down and despite her reluctance, she agrees. From the beginning I didn't believe Kohl and wanted Aina to refuse his alliance. Unfortunately, even though she hates him for what he did, she also still harbors some feelings for him. I was rooting for Aina and Teo to get together, he's a good guy and has cared for her for a long time. I did enjoy the group: Raurie, Tannis, Ryuu, Teo, and Lill. They're good friends and they all bring strengths to the table. There are also a few romantic pairings that I enjoyed seeing flourish. Though there's a lot of action, there are also a lot of politics and back and forth between Aina and Kohl. I thought it slowed down the pacing and was hoping for more of the group bond and the magic. There is a crazy twist that I didn't see coming and I got a bit upset, but by the end I was good. Everything did wrap up nicely, with no loose threads. I received this advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Shadow City is the sequel to Diamond City. While I absolutely loved every page the first book gave me, I unfortunately didn't feel the same diving into this book. Don't get me wrong, the beginning started off pretty well. I just felt like I was getting so much information that just wasn't interesting to me. Ugh, then there's Kohl and I just don't trust the guy. Luckily for me, my baby Teo was alive and kicking. There's just s I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Shadow City is the sequel to Diamond City. While I absolutely loved every page the first book gave me, I unfortunately didn't feel the same diving into this book. Don't get me wrong, the beginning started off pretty well. I just felt like I was getting so much information that just wasn't interesting to me. Ugh, then there's Kohl and I just don't trust the guy. Luckily for me, my baby Teo was alive and kicking. There's just something about him that needs to be protected at all costs. He's the love of my life and I am still secretly shipping him and Aina together. Besides them, the gang is still sort of here and boy - do they go through a lot of crap together. In the end, each twist and page kept me chugging along. I will admit that I'm still a little confused about the ending.. but I am just going to worry about that another day.

  5. 5 out of 5

    alana ♡

    Truly sad to see this duology go but I couldn't image it ending any other way. Even though I enjoyed the first book a bit more this was still everything I could have hoped for in terms of wrapping up Aina's story. Things to love about this: -action packed -so incredibly bloody -filled with lots of tension -badass females -found family trope -did i mention so incredibly bloody? I'm genuinely curious to know what the final death count in this series is because I have NEVER encountered a book with so much Truly sad to see this duology go but I couldn't image it ending any other way. Even though I enjoyed the first book a bit more this was still everything I could have hoped for in terms of wrapping up Aina's story. Things to love about this: -action packed -so incredibly bloody -filled with lots of tension -badass females -found family trope -did i mention so incredibly bloody? I'm genuinely curious to know what the final death count in this series is because I have NEVER encountered a book with so much murder....and I'm not mad about it either. tw: murder, gore, abuse, violence, drug use Thank you Wednesday Books for an e-ARC in exchange for a honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Inkslinger

    ARC provided by St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books and Francesca Flores via NetGalley. All opinions are mine and freely given. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | BookBub 01-26: 'Shadow City' by Francesca Flores is the second book in The City of Diamond and Steel duology. As is becoming a habit for me, I actually haven't yet gotten to read Diamond City.. the first of the pair, but that never really stops me from hitting the ground running with a read. Aina Solis is our proverbial eyes and ears ARC provided by St. Martin's Press/Wednesday Books and Francesca Flores via NetGalley. All opinions are mine and freely given. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | BookBub 01-26: 'Shadow City' by Francesca Flores is the second book in The City of Diamond and Steel duology. As is becoming a habit for me, I actually haven't yet gotten to read Diamond City.. the first of the pair, but that never really stops me from hitting the ground running with a read. Aina Solis is our proverbial eyes and ears for this journey. A former assassin, she's wrested control of a criminal empire from her former boss, Kohl.. and she and her friends have been running it ever since. Regardless of the fact she defeated him and the two always had a legitimately toxic connection, she has trouble shaking feelings for him. Even though she believes one of them will eventually end up killing the other, she ends up working with him against a mutual enemy known as Bautix, an old army general ousted when Aina revealed his corruption. There are so many players in the game, many of whom have their own agendas, even if you think you have a good grasp on their true intentions.. you find yourself questioning those beliefs. Interestingly enough, that puts you on the same level as those aforementioned players because they too are constantly questioning the intentions of those around them. It's one big chess match. The diamond-blood magic system is limited in scope, but very creative and I'm curious to go back and see if it's more or less diverse in the debut. While the author doesn't weigh us down with the assassin's poison tactics, she does play with the concoctions enough to make them interesting as well and between those abilities and her hand-to-hand combat, Aina is a well-rounded.. strong.. female lead. Action sequences are well-written, featuring cohesive streamlined battles that include multiple characters without feeling like a laundry list of names and events. There's barely any downtime in the book, as most of the time someone is either fighting for their life.. someone else's.. or there's some kind of emotional upheaval happening. Sometimes more than one of the above at a time. I found the tense pseudo-triangle between Aina, Kohl, and Teo to be fascinating. Not only was I not sure for awhile who.. if anyone.. she would end up with, I couldn't even decide who I'd like to see her choose. And frankly, after all was decided.. I still questioned whether or not I was pleased with the results. Flores did make me tear up a bit.. just once.. and I'm pretty sure she'll get most of us in the same spot. I was terribly invested at that point and my heart was absolutely shattered.. but for the most part, it's just a fast-moving story with a lot riding on the line for everyone. Well worth the read! PURCHASE LINKS: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSAMILLION | GOOGLEPLAY BOOKS | INDIGO | KOBO | WATERSTONES

  7. 5 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    I was so happy to win a copy of Diamond City last year on Goodreads. I fell in love with the story so much! In the conclusion, we find Aina and Tannis taking over Kohl's trade house. War looms over the city with Beautrix as our villain. Although Aina had control of the trade house, she's still not safe. There are those who would rather see her dead, and those who may have changed sides that would see her live. Shadow City has everything the end of a duology can have. Action, twists, and gritty wr I was so happy to win a copy of Diamond City last year on Goodreads. I fell in love with the story so much! In the conclusion, we find Aina and Tannis taking over Kohl's trade house. War looms over the city with Beautrix as our villain. Although Aina had control of the trade house, she's still not safe. There are those who would rather see her dead, and those who may have changed sides that would see her live. Shadow City has everything the end of a duology can have. Action, twists, and gritty writing that throws you into the world. There is a ton of politics in this one, and scenes with an unlikely ally that slowed the pacing a bit, but it did not affect my rating. I liked the back and forth since the relationship in question intrigued me in book one. The ending has me O_O but I loved it I highly recommend this series for anyone looking for a change from the norm of YA.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    *Source* Publisher *Genre* Young Adult / Fantasy *Rating* 4.0 *Thoughts* Shadow City is the second and final installment in author Francesca Flores The City of Diamond and Steel duology. The story picks up where Diamond City left off. Aina Solis is our main character for this series. She's a former top level assassin who has wrestled control of a criminal empire from her former boss, Kohl. The man who turned her world upside down, and then rebuilt her in what he thought an assassin should be. Aina, *Source* Publisher *Genre* Young Adult / Fantasy *Rating* 4.0 *Thoughts* Shadow City is the second and final installment in author Francesca Flores The City of Diamond and Steel duology. The story picks up where Diamond City left off. Aina Solis is our main character for this series. She's a former top level assassin who has wrestled control of a criminal empire from her former boss, Kohl. The man who turned her world upside down, and then rebuilt her in what he thought an assassin should be. Aina, Teo, Raurie, Tannis, Ryuu, Hirai, and Lill are trying to keep Alsane Bautix, the old army general who was banned from his seat in the government, from taking back his power by force and destroying everyone who stands in his way. *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews* https://gizmosreviews.blogspot.com/20...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Stone

    Book: Shadow City Author: Francesca Flores Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Wednesday Books, for sending me an ARC. I was super excited whenever Wednesday Books reached out and offered an ARC to me. I loved Diamond City and could not wait to find out how it actually ended. I will say that this second book equals, if not betters, the first book. I loved that it picked right up where the first book left off and did not leave us lacking for anything. I loved the action and Book: Shadow City Author: Francesca Flores Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Wednesday Books, for sending me an ARC. I was super excited whenever Wednesday Books reached out and offered an ARC to me. I loved Diamond City and could not wait to find out how it actually ended. I will say that this second book equals, if not betters, the first book. I loved that it picked right up where the first book left off and did not leave us lacking for anything. I loved the action and getting to actually see the characters struggle with how they viewed each other. I was just wowed at how strong of a finish we actually got from this series. Let’s start out by talking about the characters. If you are looking for a relationship that very similar to that of the Giisha Trilogy, then this is the series for you. I love Aina and Kohl’s relationship. It’s that relationship that you shouldn’t love as much as you do, but you can’t help yourself. I found myself drawn to them and wanting them to achieve. I wanted them to actually work out whatever it was between them and everything be okay. You are going care about these characters to the point that it’s kind of crazy. I felt so much for these characters, which is a great thing to have in a book. You have to make your reader feel something for your characters if you want your book to succeed, you have to make us feel something for your characters. I really felt something for them and they have been in my mind for some time now. I like how complex they were and how no one was completely innocent. I like it whenever my characters are morally grey. It makes them have a certain element to them that I relaly like. The writing and world building was also solid. Francesca’s writing style is one that will capture you right away and you will want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen. The amount of work that was put into this book really comes out. There is not a word out of place; everything flows together very nicely and keeps you guessing. I kind of saw the ending coming-not all of it though. That little twist at the end was a very nice touch. It just pulled at my heart a little bit, which, again, is a good thing for a book to have. You want to feel something and this book most certainly made me feel something. I highly recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a good heist book. This book doesn’t come out for a while, not until next year. I do think it is worth the wait and I am really considering picking up a finished copy, which is something that I never do for ARCs. This book comes out on January 26, 2020. Youtube: https://youtu.be/Pj-2nj9UsWI

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    You can read my full review on my blog, We Write at Dawn! 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 You can read my full review on my blog, We Write at Dawn! 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!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura (crofteereader)

    I'll admit I struggled with this one. I received an ARC of Diamond City at Yallfest last year and absolutely devoured it, enthralled by the assassins and awesome fight scenes pushing the plot relentlessly forward. In this one, however, we have bombs in the streets and melees and full-fledged battles, blowing the scope of the story wide open and it felt, to me, like it was full of holes. The addition of magic in Aina's arsenal of weapons had me intrigued. I was ready to see how this would turn the I'll admit I struggled with this one. I received an ARC of Diamond City at Yallfest last year and absolutely devoured it, enthralled by the assassins and awesome fight scenes pushing the plot relentlessly forward. In this one, however, we have bombs in the streets and melees and full-fledged battles, blowing the scope of the story wide open and it felt, to me, like it was full of holes. The addition of magic in Aina's arsenal of weapons had me intrigued. I was ready to see how this would turn the tide. Except, she barely used it. It was more of a convenience than something that required effort and dedication - especially when the magic itself relies so heavily on faith (which Aina doesn't really have). And the tug of war between Aina and Kohl got to be very repetitive. Another issue is that we see very little of our side characters. Mirran is mentioned a few times but she only actually has like two speaking lines. Tannis, Raurie, and Lill seemed to have very little bearing on the actual plot. Ryuu and Teo act as sounding boards to organize Aina's thoughts and emotions. To me, it just felt very surface level. Character injuries (even major ones like bullet wounds and burns) are negligible after they happened; like the whole book takes place over the course of maybe two weeks, so a bullet wound from day 3 should still be incredibly painful on day 10. Or specify that they healed with magic maybe? These same 6 characters are getting into knife and gun fights that last for like 8 hours almost daily and they're not sore or stiff or in huge amounts of pain? Come on. There was also one huge cop-out near the end that made me groan out loud; because it shouldn't have been possible. It took me ages to read and I debated DNFing just because it didn't hold my attention. Luckily, I liked Diamond City enough that I didn't want to just give up. I would still give Flores another chance, but this book didn't do it for me. {Thank you Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review; all thoughts are my own}

  12. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I was sent a ARC from the publisher to review. I still find myself wondering why no one talks about this hidden gem, like it’s literally a Diamond in the rough. Shadow City was the epic and fast paced conclusion to The City of Diamond and Steel conclusion and I enjoyed this one even more then the first book, Diamond City. Once again it was hard to trust almost any one in this story, expect a few of our main favorites, like Teo, who is a precious cinnamon roll and needs protection at all costs. S I was sent a ARC from the publisher to review. I still find myself wondering why no one talks about this hidden gem, like it’s literally a Diamond in the rough. Shadow City was the epic and fast paced conclusion to The City of Diamond and Steel conclusion and I enjoyed this one even more then the first book, Diamond City. Once again it was hard to trust almost any one in this story, expect a few of our main favorites, like Teo, who is a precious cinnamon roll and needs protection at all costs. Shadow City was full of twists and turns and betrayal and left my jaw on the floor a few times. The fact that this book picks up exactly where Diamond City ended really helped to keep the story fresh in my mind and I didn’t find myself trying to figure out where I’m at while picking this story back up. The world of Diamond City felt very unique and fresh to me and I loved all of the different kinds of characters that had very different backgrounds. The only thing I will say, is the magic system could have been used much more and built up a bit more but it really didn’t take away from the story for me. The City of Diamond and Steel duology was FULL of epic battle scenes, betrayal, cunning and wit and I ate up every scene of this amazing story!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Graceley Knox

    Shadow City is the finale to the City of Diamond and Steel Duology, and it picks up right where we left off in Diamond City, smack dab in the middle of the action! Alina fought hard to take control of her home from her old boss, but now, with a new war brewing, she's got no choice but to work with him again... Tensions are high and the witty banter and breathtaking scenery descriptions keep you moving through this story at a fast clip, and despite it being the final book in a world that this rev Shadow City is the finale to the City of Diamond and Steel Duology, and it picks up right where we left off in Diamond City, smack dab in the middle of the action! Alina fought hard to take control of her home from her old boss, but now, with a new war brewing, she's got no choice but to work with him again... Tensions are high and the witty banter and breathtaking scenery descriptions keep you moving through this story at a fast clip, and despite it being the final book in a world that this reviewer really wishes she could return to, Flores wrapped Alina's story beautifully and Shadow City was a satisfying conclusion that kept me turning the pages well into the night. I can't wait to see what Flores does next!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Valerie | starrynight.reads ✨

    * Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review* I thought this book was amazing! The plot, the characters, the action. Everything. We're introduced to some new characters and the previous characters just get more fleshed out and the relationship between them all is amazing. The main character Aina is bi and there is a f/f relationship in this book! I really enjoyed where the story went after the events of the first one! Aina is such an int * Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review* I thought this book was amazing! The plot, the characters, the action. Everything. We're introduced to some new characters and the previous characters just get more fleshed out and the relationship between them all is amazing. The main character Aina is bi and there is a f/f relationship in this book! I really enjoyed where the story went after the events of the first one! Aina is such an intricate and complex character who questions what she has been taught and whether its the right thing to do or not, and I enjoyed getting to see her growth in this book. This series is really underrated and I would really recommend checking it out!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    This is a hard book to rate. Did I like it? Kinda. Did it keep my attention? Sure. But did I actually enjoy it? I don't think so. My main problem with this book is the main character, Aina. I like that she is an anti-hero; she cares for her city but she is ruthless. However, as much I like her badassery, I actually really dislike her personality itself. The toxic relationship between Aina and Kohl is probably the most intriguing part of the story. What's interesting is how the author has Teo sayi This is a hard book to rate. Did I like it? Kinda. Did it keep my attention? Sure. But did I actually enjoy it? I don't think so. My main problem with this book is the main character, Aina. I like that she is an anti-hero; she cares for her city but she is ruthless. However, as much I like her badassery, I actually really dislike her personality itself. The toxic relationship between Aina and Kohl is probably the most intriguing part of the story. What's interesting is how the author has Teo saying that Aina loses herself every time she goes back to Kohl, however, reading from her POV, this is never actually noticed in the 2 books. That's not saying Kohl wasn't a terrible and controlling manipulator but I think that Teo saw Aina much more of victim than she actually portrayed herself and that she needed saving from Kohl when really Aina herself did not understand how far Kohl's impact on her actually went. There is then this weird romance plot where supposedly everyone is or at some point was attracted to Aina. For reasons unknown. It made no sense and was not needed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    afternoonsunjeans

    June 22, 2020: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COVERRR????? it screams of "burn down your abuser, build your empire in his ashes" and I AM H E R E FOR IT (and hello it looks very--how do we young people say it--queer.) June 22, 2020: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COVERRR????? it screams of "burn down your abuser, build your empire in his ashes" and I AM H E R E FOR IT (and hello it looks very--how do we young people say it--queer.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shilo Quetchenbach

    I went into this with mixed feelings, as I had a lot of issues with Diamond City. And... a lot of those issues remain. Some minor characters get shoved into relationships with some of Aina's .... suitors? friends? and so she doesn't spend the whole book in love with four people but... I don't know. She doesn't have to make any real choices. The entire city is destroyed basically. There was a ridiculous amount of bombings and killings. Like. I know she's an assassin but it gets ridiculous. There' I went into this with mixed feelings, as I had a lot of issues with Diamond City. And... a lot of those issues remain. Some minor characters get shoved into relationships with some of Aina's .... suitors? friends? and so she doesn't spend the whole book in love with four people but... I don't know. She doesn't have to make any real choices. The entire city is destroyed basically. There was a ridiculous amount of bombings and killings. Like. I know she's an assassin but it gets ridiculous. There's also a bit of a cop-out at the end which annoyed me and lessened the impact of Aina's choices. Aina also spends a lot of the book alone as her group of friends sort of splinters to focus on different things. so it's mostly just her and Kohl - and at least she sorts out how she feels about him. Mostly there's no depth to anything. There's running and exploding and blood and more blood and killing and blood and poisons and antidotes and fire and blood and that's.... it, really. Overall it was meh and I probably wouldn't have continued (or even started really) if I didn't have an arc to review. Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday books for providing an e-arc to review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Pore Over the Pages

    To be completely honest, I hadn’t even read the first book in this duology when I found the eARC of Shadow City set to “Read Now” on Netgalley. But I love publisher Wednesday Books, so I downloaded the digital galley anyway and then started reading Diamond City to prepare for this exciting conclusion. Shadow City starts where Diamond City left off, so it’s easy to orient yourself despite being thrown into immediate action. And I must say, there was a lot of action in this book. At a certain point To be completely honest, I hadn’t even read the first book in this duology when I found the eARC of Shadow City set to “Read Now” on Netgalley. But I love publisher Wednesday Books, so I downloaded the digital galley anyway and then started reading Diamond City to prepare for this exciting conclusion. Shadow City starts where Diamond City left off, so it’s easy to orient yourself despite being thrown into immediate action. And I must say, there was a lot of action in this book. At a certain point, I even found myself skimming over some of the action scenes. 😬 Actually, the pacing felt so much more bogged down than the first book that it took me almost two months to finish reading this book. This could be because we are in the middle of a pandemic and I’m in a bit of a reading slump; but I would also attribute the slow pace to the fact that, until the climax, the characters just…don’t seem to get anywhere in their attempts to stop Bautix. Many of the scenes and settings almost felt repetitive in this way. Of course, their failures and Bautix’s retaliations then up the stakes, which does make you want to find out what happens next . . . I don’t know. The pace is something I can’t quite put into words yet. That being said, if you look at the plot as a whole, the sequence of events are spaced evenly and feel natural as they build upon one another and set the stage for Aina to grow as a character as she grapples with all of the trials she must face. And Aina’s biggest struggle? Kohl. Aina’s relationship with Kohl is, by far, the star of this book. (In fact, the conflict between Aina and Kohl took precedence, and one of my main criticisms is how Aina’s other relationships felt like they were being put on the back-burner. I would have loved to see Aina spending more time with, and connecting to, her friends—Teo, Ryuu, Tannis, Raurie, Mirran.) I can’t speak for the representation of abuse and toxicity, but, I have to say, Aina’s relationship with Kohl was so complex and nuanced and twisted. Their back and forth was gripping and I simply could not wait to see what would happen next. Would Aina kill Kohl? Would Kohl betray Aina? Would Aina choose Kohl over Teo (or any other romantic interest)? I had so. many. questions. And Aina answered all of them. The most readers ever get into Aina’s head is when she’s thinking about Kohl and how he overshadows her whole life. She’s still a flawed badass who will do everything to save her city, but we really get to know Aina through her mental and emotional (and, let’s face it, physical) turmoil over the course of Shadow City. I think my biggest issue with this story, though, as other reviewers have said, is how the magic is not used to its full potential. I thought it would play a bigger role, but it ends up being more of a convenience for Aina rather than a weapon. Maybe this is because of Aina’s faith (or lack thereof); but if that’s the case, then I really wanted to see her grapple with her beliefs and her family’s religion. I just think there was much more to explore in terms of plot and world-building when it came to the addition of magic in Aina’s arsenal. If there was one word to describe this book, it would be intense. There there are countless action scenes, there is gritty writing, there are plot twists (only one of which I guessed outright at the first mention of foreshadowing), and there is a strong premise that propels the plot and the characters through this strong conclusion to the The City of Diamond and Steel duology. *I RECEIVED AN ELECTRONIC ADVANCED READER’S COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM THE PUBLISHER THROUGH NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Raji

    Find this review and more on my blog at Worlds Unlike Our Own . Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Aina and Tannis have now taken over Kohl’s tradehouses, but Kosin is far from peaceful. The corrupt general Alsane Bautix who was ousted after Aina revealed his corruption is already making moves to take back his power with no care for anyone who stands in his way. When Kohl returns and asks Aina t Find this review and more on my blog at Worlds Unlike Our Own . Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Aina and Tannis have now taken over Kohl’s tradehouses, but Kosin is far from peaceful. The corrupt general Alsane Bautix who was ousted after Aina revealed his corruption is already making moves to take back his power with no care for anyone who stands in his way. When Kohl returns and asks Aina to join him in taking down Bautix, she is reluctant, but seeing no other option to protect her home, agrees. But their alliance is an uneasy one, knowing that once they’ve achieved their goal, it will be time to face each other once again. I like the world-building in this duology, and along with all the history into the Inosen religion and the civil war, it makes for a very unique setting. But Shadow City was entirely focused on what was more or less the 3-way conflict between Aina, Kohl and Bautix that all of that background kind of felt pointless. There was a lot of action, and quite a bit of political scheming which was about the only thing that kept this story together in my opinion, since the pacing was slow as well. There were times at which it felt like way too much was happening to keep everything straight to the point that I started to lose interest. I cannot believe Aina actually let herself trust Kohl again after everything she has been through, and that was about the point when I threw up my hands, sat back and waited for the backstabbing to happen. Aina’s complicated past with Kohl takes centre stage in this book at the times there’s no fighting going on, and while it’s a very complex and twisted one that was wonderfully portrayed, it does come at the expense of page time for the other characters. While I love the secondary characters, Ryuu and Teo in particular, they didn’t feel as central to the plot in this book as they did in the last, and it would have been nice to see more of them. I do appreciate however, how well the romantic relationships were handled in this sequel, as an important part of the characters’ arcs, but never an overarching focus to the plot, which is, I think something that more fantasy novels ought to adapt because I could honestly use a few more straightforward plotlines like this. Magic was probably the one aspect I was most excited to see in this book – and it was the biggest disappointment. When Aina added magic to her already extensive arsenal, I thought the story would finally take a more exciting turn, but it was almost superfluous. She barely uses it, and when she does, it’s completely anticlimactic and was little better than a convenience rather than a weapon. The other thing I didn’t like was the excessive violence – it was to the point that as a reader, I was nearly desensitized to it by the end. Characters get injured left and right, yet seem to be able to run around astonishingly soon after, which is simply not realistic. Overall, while this was an acceptable conclusion to the story, and things were tied up rather neatly, it was a letdown and it simply didn’t hold my attention the way Diamond City did. I would probably read another book by the same author since I like the writing style, but this series was not for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Dang

    Picking up where we left off in the first book, the story continues with Aina trying to control the Dom, find Kohl, and protect her friends. This book focuses heavily on the theme of relationships, be it friendships, enemies, or lovers. Aina is still so entangled with Kohl, and between wanting to kill him and examining her feelings, things are complicated. The shining thing in this book for me was the complexity of the relationship (be it toxic) between Kohl and Aina. Their relationship is a pow Picking up where we left off in the first book, the story continues with Aina trying to control the Dom, find Kohl, and protect her friends. This book focuses heavily on the theme of relationships, be it friendships, enemies, or lovers. Aina is still so entangled with Kohl, and between wanting to kill him and examining her feelings, things are complicated. The shining thing in this book for me was the complexity of the relationship (be it toxic) between Kohl and Aina. Their relationship is a power struggle between the two, and one in which Kohl constantly hurts her and she comes back to him. They have this pull where they just can’t seem to stay away from the other, yet they both hate the other and care at the same time. It’s twisted, it’s layered, and it’s enjoyable as hell to read. With the city under attack from Bautix who wants to take over, Aina is forced to team up with Kohl in order to stop him. The issue is that Aina and Kohl both have separate plans and will not only be playing against Bautix, but each other to see who comes out standing at the end of this all. It’s a great read and a nice ending to the duology. Favorite Quotes (this is taken from the arc) : - Kohl’s Note to Aina: I hate to see you go, Aina. But I had to make a choice between the empire I’ve built for myself, the protection it affords, the way it empowers this community—and the one girl who makes me weak in a city where you can only afford to be strong. -If Teo were here, she wouldn’t feel so cold. They would help each other stay warm, and if one of them succumbed to the cold, the other would find a way to go on.But if Kohl were here, they’d freeze to death together. Even if they never brought a knife to each other’s throats, they’d still end up killing each other slowly.The words in his notes came back to her: Sometimes I wonder if I let you live because I wanted to or because I’m too weak to end you. I hope we won’t have to find out. -The only thing to decide was what to do with Kohl. She wouldn’t let him rattle her like the last time they’d spoken to each other and he’d said he feared living without her . . . or the way his eyes had softened in relief when he saw she’d survived Bautix’s attacks, or the notes he’d left her proving he’d always cared.Teo’s words echoed in her mind then: Every time you go back to Kohl, you fall down that same self-destructive path. -Just like when they’d worked together, she never knew what direction he would take; if he’d try to hold her hand or break her arm.But when she looked up and met his normally sharp blue eyes, they’d softened somewhat. She remembered the letters in the horse. Had they really come from this man in front of her, who’d threatened her more times than she could count? His feelings for her had always been muddled, always confusing, always a mess, like hers had always been for him. *Thanks Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

  21. 4 out of 5

    M. K. French

    Aina Solís wrested control of Kosín's assassin empire from her old boss, Kohl, and no longer had to fear homelessness. She revealed the corruption of General Alsane Beautix, who now is trying to regain his former power within the city. Civil war erupted, and the only way to stop Beautix is to team up with Kohl. Once the two of them defeat Beautix, however, the two will have to face each other to determine the true leader of the assassins. Francesca's anticipated sequel to the amazing Diamond City Aina Solís wrested control of Kosín's assassin empire from her old boss, Kohl, and no longer had to fear homelessness. She revealed the corruption of General Alsane Beautix, who now is trying to regain his former power within the city. Civil war erupted, and the only way to stop Beautix is to team up with Kohl. Once the two of them defeat Beautix, however, the two will have to face each other to determine the true leader of the assassins. Francesca's anticipated sequel to the amazing Diamond City wraps up the duology. Shadow City starts up soon after the end of Diamond City, so you really should read that one first. It's amazing, I promise, and this will make so much more sense even though there are some brief references to events in that book. Aina is trying to hold onto the Dom and her former colleagues, but can't admit to any of them that she's willing to work with Kohl to get to Beautix. Each step of the way, whether trying to find the weapons that he's importing into the city or trying to keep the Inosen safe, Aina is at a disadvantage. She has limited information and only a handful of allies; she doesn't really know how far ahead Beautix is, but he's there along the way and taunts her. This leads her to learn blood magic, but the spells she has the most affinity for are the most dangerous and harmful ones, which most Inosen frown upon. Magic of this type had generally been used to heal, and Aina really isn't a healer by any stretch of the imagination. There is an utterly heartbreaking scene that made me want to yell in frustration right along with Aina. Well, actually, there are a lot of those, but one, in particular, is especially painful to read. Things hadn't turned out the way she had hoped they would, and the loss is devastating on so many levels. My heart broke right along with hers, but Aina is good at compartmentalizing. She can shove it aside for revenge, and there is a considerable amount of murder and mayhem along the way. The final sequences in the novel are amazing and cinematic, until we get to the culmination that they had all worked for. It's not a happily ever after for everyone, but there is such hope for the future. This book closes with a neat enough ending that I'm pleased with it and can't wait to reread the entire duology again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Summary: 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 w Summary: 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. Honest Review: Flores is the author I wish had been around when I was a teen. Her voice and style are a much-needed breath of fresh air in the genre. Her characters are morally ambiguous and every bit intriguing, the plot moves accordingly while having unpredictable turns along the way, and the dialogue is pretty exceptional. I found this conclusion to be epic, action-packed, emotionally gutting and gut-churning. My favorite books are the ones that explore the shades of gray between self-righteousness and evil. I also super enjoy themes of betrayal, specifically when it is those closest to the protagonist that are twisting the knife of betrayal. While this duology is complete, I cannot wait to read the next stories Flores has planned.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Unraveling the threads of secrets and plots for power consume attention, and lives, in Shadow City by Francesca Flores. To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/. Having secured her status in the city’s criminal ranks and taken leadership of those who were under the thumb of the Blood King, Kohl, Aina’s proven herself to be an effective leader. But Kohl has suddenly returned and wants to get his empire back; given that he and Aina have a common Unraveling the threads of secrets and plots for power consume attention, and lives, in Shadow City by Francesca Flores. To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/. Having secured her status in the city’s criminal ranks and taken leadership of those who were under the thumb of the Blood King, Kohl, Aina’s proven herself to be an effective leader. But Kohl has suddenly returned and wants to get his empire back; given that he and Aina have a common enemy in the corrupt Bautix, Kohl proposes an arrangement where he and Aina work together again – an alliance that will end with one of them dead after they eliminate Bautix. With the fate of the city’s, and its people’s, freedom and survival at stake, Aina’s strength and relationships are tested as she devises a plan of action toward solidifying a better future. This installment contained ample amounts of action within the world that was previously established for these characters, but the story didn’t pull me as easily or consistently in like Diamond City did. There was still intrigue around the politics at play as it intertwined with the societal factors explored in the first book; however, the pacing of the narrative was uneven as it slowly unraveled the motivations behind Kohl and Aina’s actions to take down Bautix and their renewed, yet tenuous, alliance but was then followed by bouts of rapid, destructive, and intense, if seemingly out of nowhere, action scenes. Relationships, in their various forms, were a key part of being able to advance the plot by placing characters on the board where they’d serve the greatest function and I again appreciate how the romantically leaning relationships were handled – namely that they were humanizing parts of a character’s larger whole instead of an all-encompassing focus. The use of magic was explained in more detail in this part, which was fascinating and I think it would have been more interesting to explore this aspect of the world in greater depth. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Becca Mee

    Shadow City was just as fun, unique, and action-packed as Diamond City was. Aina Solis has wrested control of the criminal empire started by her old mentor Kohl. She should have nothing to fear, but she cannot escape the shadow of the man who plucked her out of obscurity and made her the assassin she is. She also can't escape a vengeful general hell-bent on destroying Aina and her friends, and bringing on a new civil war. As Aina sets out to destroy her enemies, she finds that the only way to pr Shadow City was just as fun, unique, and action-packed as Diamond City was. Aina Solis has wrested control of the criminal empire started by her old mentor Kohl. She should have nothing to fear, but she cannot escape the shadow of the man who plucked her out of obscurity and made her the assassin she is. She also can't escape a vengeful general hell-bent on destroying Aina and her friends, and bringing on a new civil war. As Aina sets out to destroy her enemies, she finds that the only way to protect her home and the people important to her is to align herself with the one person with the power to destroy her--Kohl himself. Filled with high stakes and lots of betrayal, Shadow City is the stunning conclusion to Aina's story began in Diamond City, and the question becomes whether Aina can save her city without becoming everything she fears. This duology truly doesn't get enough hype. I love it. It has everything. All of the characters are morally grey in the best of ways, forced to do things for the good of their city and those they love even though it may not be considered "right." I loved getting deeper into the complex nature of Aina's relationship with Kohl, and watching her wrestle with feelings for a toxic and controlling person. Relationships are messy and tangled things, and no more so than an emotionally abusive relationship, and Flores does a really good job navigating her main character through all of that. I really loved seeing Aina and her friends work together to stop Beautix and Kohl. And Teo. His journey made me want to cry, and then I was happy again. I did feel a little unclear on the magic in this one, although I think that has a lot to do with how much time has passed since I read the first book. But pacing, world-building, and compelling characters made this a really strong follow up to Diamond City. Shadow City is a story about learning to live with every part of yourself--both good and the bad--and differentiating between true love and affection, and control.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Yolanda

    *Review will be posted on my blog on 1/4/21* **3.5 STARS** I Liked: *World building ~ We are back in the city of Kosin. It is a city run by gangs. Aina finally has broken free of Kohl, The Blood King. and is running her own gang. But is she really free of him? We return to the gritty streets of Kosin and it’s rough as ever. *Aina and Kohl, it’s the two of them that really pull the story along because they are complicated. Kohl knows how to get under her skin and I was just hoping Aina doesn’t fall f *Review will be posted on my blog on 1/4/21* **3.5 STARS** I Liked: *World building ~ We are back in the city of Kosin. It is a city run by gangs. Aina finally has broken free of Kohl, The Blood King. and is running her own gang. But is she really free of him? We return to the gritty streets of Kosin and it’s rough as ever. *Aina and Kohl, it’s the two of them that really pull the story along because they are complicated. Kohl knows how to get under her skin and I was just hoping Aina doesn’t fall for his lies again. It’s a back and forth between them and you wonder how it ends between them. *The crew is back and we see Ryuu, Teo, Tannis and Lil. I think they keep Aina level headed and I like that she has them around her. *It’s a dark story because there is abuse and it also has a whole lot of action. The killing kind. There is a lot of killing, daggers in throats, throats being sliced but I like that Aina doesn’t hesitate…except when it comes to Kohl. But she works through all those emotions in this book. Random Notes: *The magic aspect seemed to take sort of a backseat in this one. There is a few chapters in the middle of the book that deals with learning the magic and it comes in handy in the final battle, but other than that – I wondered if it was even needed in the story. They barely knew how to use the magic so it would have been nice to the magic being explored and used much more. *I would have liked more about the side characters because they were such a big part of book one. They help her in this book, but I felt like I was just drawn to Kohl and Aina so much more than her friends. *Triggers: violence, killing, abuse Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this duology because it was dark and had lots of action. Aina is a girl who had to overcome grief, glue addiction, and being under Kohl’s thumb for years. Seeing her break free and find her power was great. If you like young adult crime fantasy, you may enjoy this series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tessa (Talks Books)

    Diamond City and Shadow City are an intense, action-packed fantasy duology that enthralled me and horrified me as I rooted for the characters to be clear of the shadows so that they can truly live. What I Loved I loved the intensity that kept me captivated with the story through every page. A civil war is in the works, and the tone and pace reflect such a tragic event. This intensity could be rough in large doses, but it feels utterly genuine to the story. I also loved the motif of shadows used to Diamond City and Shadow City are an intense, action-packed fantasy duology that enthralled me and horrified me as I rooted for the characters to be clear of the shadows so that they can truly live. What I Loved I loved the intensity that kept me captivated with the story through every page. A civil war is in the works, and the tone and pace reflect such a tragic event. This intensity could be rough in large doses, but it feels utterly genuine to the story. I also loved the motif of shadows used to enhance the theme of repression and subjugation. This is a society that lives in the shadows and is in dire need to have light thrown on their plight – the light of truth, the light of personal empowerment, and the light of safety, love, and life. The shadows have created a land of chaos where criminal activity means survival. Still, it is also subject to power hungry megalomaniacs who get to their positions by walking on the backs of those they keep in the shadows. It's a tragic world, one that can improve if anyone who takes an interest in it will rule. Aina Solis, the main character, is the epitome of a survivor. She is never happy with the status quo seeking to push beyond the boundaries and make her own life better and everybody around her. She is smart, deadly, and has a clear moral compass, even if it doesn't look like it on the surface. Aina's supporting characters are a collection of equally intriguing backstories and connections. All characters display intricate layers and toughness of spirit in a world that seeks to destroy it. I loved everyone, even the bad guys, because they feel as real as the person sitting next to me. The world-building is exquisite with the detail that makes me easily able to imagine it. I loved the hidden tunnels and system of hideaways throughout the city. I also love the magic system and wish it had been developed even more. It is very intricate magic with two sides – destruction and healing – and I wanted to know more about it and how much could be done with it. To Read or Not to Read Diamond City / Shadow City is a fantasy duology that will impact how you look at many things in your own society. It is a must-read for 2021.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mahnoor Khurram

    Have you ever bought a book and then realized that it is actually the second or third book of a series? That has happened to me twice. Once with Hunger Games, and once with Shadow City, the second book of a duology: The City of Diamond and Steel. However, this book was written so well, with such proper explanations of the events that occurred in the last book, that it took me no time at all to get into the universe and root for the characters. After exposing the plans of her former boss, Kohl, and Have you ever bought a book and then realized that it is actually the second or third book of a series? That has happened to me twice. Once with Hunger Games, and once with Shadow City, the second book of a duology: The City of Diamond and Steel. However, this book was written so well, with such proper explanations of the events that occurred in the last book, that it took me no time at all to get into the universe and root for the characters. After exposing the plans of her former boss, Kohl, and a member of the Sentinel, Bautix to murder a foreign princess, Aina is the head of the criminal tradehouses part of the Dom in her city, Kosin. She rules the Dom alongside her partner, Tannis. However, she is constantly haunted by the fact that both Kohl and Bautix are still alive and are probably planning to take back what was previously theirs. Unfortunately, she does not know where they are hiding. That is, until Kohl appears and asks her to join him in defeating Bautix. He assures her that after they succeed, they can go back to fighting each other. Wanting the chance to kill him slowly, and seizing the opportunity to manipulate him until she can kill him, Aina agrees. The only problem is that she has not told Tannis or her other friends – Teo, Ryuu, Raurie, and Lill – that she is working with Kohl. She struggles to keep their deal a secret, all the while scheming about defeating both Bautix and Kohl for good. Kohl and Aina work together, just like old times. They share information, kill people, and make plans, all the while knowing that once this is over, they will fight each other for the tradehouses. I haven’t reviewed many assassin stories on this blog, but you should know: I am obsessed with them. My love for women with swords coupled with reading stories from the perspective of the supposed villains made me fall in love with this book. The story had unique plotlines and ideas, such as blood magic performed using diamonds, rendering me gripped and immensely interested. The fictional city, the leadership, and the names used in the book were creative and exciting. The author never failed to shock me with her sudden reveals and plot twists. As someone who is usually good at predicting what will happen in books, being proven wrong was both infuriating and exciting. The element of surprise and anticipation was present throughout, discouraging me from putting the book down. Each time I would think that one element of the plot is over and that I should continue the book after a break, something shocking would happen at the end of a chapter, forcing me to keep reading. I usually prefer characters over plot, and this book had both. The characters were all different, fascinating, and impressive. They were morally grey and there were several redemption arcs present in the story, which made me feel as if I was a part of Aina’s group, and could understand how each character felt and functioned. This is probably my favorite ARC to date. The multidimensional characters, coupled with the excellent plot, alongside the wonderful writing made the book a masterpiece. I even downloaded the first book of the duology (Diamond City) and cannot wait to read it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Teri

    I read the first book in this series nearly a year ago – an outstanding, action-packed debut novel – and couldn’t wait to see where the author took the story next, so when I was invited to read and review the conclusion to this duology, I jumped at the chance. It’s always difficult to review a sequel without spoilers, so this may be brief. The end of the first book was filled with upheaval – political, religious, socioeconomic – and the struggles continue in Shadow City. The complex relationship b I read the first book in this series nearly a year ago – an outstanding, action-packed debut novel – and couldn’t wait to see where the author took the story next, so when I was invited to read and review the conclusion to this duology, I jumped at the chance. It’s always difficult to review a sequel without spoilers, so this may be brief. The end of the first book was filled with upheaval – political, religious, socioeconomic – and the struggles continue in Shadow City. The complex relationship between Aina and Kohl was an endless source of fascination for me throughout this series. It’s a bizarre combination of mentor/mentee, love/hate, savior/worshipper, strength/weakness, and allies/enemies. They can’t seem to live with or without each other, yet there’s not an ounce of trust between them. Talk about your unhealthy relationships. Whatever their battles against each other are, they now face a common enemy who’s started a war to take over their city. As with the first book, this is a bloody tale – saying the body count is high is an understatement. Lots of action, lots of killing. Aina is a gutsy, clever, and determined MC who trusts very few people, but she finds her crew in this story. They’re lovable, supportive, and ferocious when they need to be and add a lot to the story. The found family vibe is strong, and it’s easy to see how she’s grown and developed from the first book. With power struggles, a touch of magic, fierce conflicts, and sky-high stakes, this is an action-packed, addictive fantasy series. I felt the ending was satisfying and perfect for these characters and had a hint of coming full circle. Whatever this author writes next, I’ll be reading it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Libriamo3116

    After the events of Diamond City, Aina has made it to the top. She did it by taking control from her boss, Kohl, and she is now leading his empire of assassins. Life is good, so long as she can keep Kohl from flipping the tables on her takeover. She plans to kill him to make her takeover permanent, but Alsane Bautix is determined to get in the way after Aina got him thrown out of the government, even if it means civil war. To fight off Bautix's fiendish plot, Aina partners with Kohl to grind Bau After the events of Diamond City, Aina has made it to the top. She did it by taking control from her boss, Kohl, and she is now leading his empire of assassins. Life is good, so long as she can keep Kohl from flipping the tables on her takeover. She plans to kill him to make her takeover permanent, but Alsane Bautix is determined to get in the way after Aina got him thrown out of the government, even if it means civil war. To fight off Bautix's fiendish plot, Aina partners with Kohl to grind Bautix's supplies and plans to a halt. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, but when my enemy is dead, do my old enemies return? Aina battles with this reality as she and Kohl struggle with Bautix, but in this city, the only winners are those who resort to any measures to stay alive and on top. I thought the closing tale of The City of Diamond and Steel was pretty great! Aina remains strong and scary, and she puts some new tools into her belt. Kohl is as untrustworthy as ever, but we can't always pick our allies, can we? The relationship these two characters share is complex and unhealthy, but I suppose for assassins this may be normal? In any case, Bautix made for a good antagonist, and I thought it was realistic (and scary!) that somebody who'd been thrown out of office might seek populist support to take back power, no matter the cost. I thought the magic that Aina ends up using felt like a bit of a tack-on, but I do like assassins with magic, so I don't mind too much. Shadow City is a strong conclusion to this duology, and I thought it was better than Diamond City. This and its predecessor are recommended if you like strong women rising to the top in unlikely places while dealing with demons they never knew they'd have to fight. Thank you Wednesday Books for providing me with a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.⁣⁣⁣

  30. 4 out of 5

    Megan Miller

    I messed up. I requested to read this book via NetGalley before having read the first book. I knew the name and had heard good things. Unfortunately, the first book Diamond City was not for me. (You can see my review for Diamond City here.) But I had already committed myself to this book, so I read it anyway, with very low expectations. Those expectations were pretty much on par. I'm not sure what it is really about these books, or this author, for me. I can definitely understand the appeal for ot I messed up. I requested to read this book via NetGalley before having read the first book. I knew the name and had heard good things. Unfortunately, the first book Diamond City was not for me. (You can see my review for Diamond City here.) But I had already committed myself to this book, so I read it anyway, with very low expectations. Those expectations were pretty much on par. I'm not sure what it is really about these books, or this author, for me. I can definitely understand the appeal for other people. The plots are intriguing enough, but the characters and the world-building don't really do it for me. In this book, Aina and the gang have to join up with bad-guy Kohl to overthrow worse bad-guy Bautix. They turn to forbidden magic and some other hair-brained ideas to do so. So, it's not surprising when things go south. I did think showing more of the magic in this one was pretty interesting, even if I was still a little lost in the world. Two books later and I still don't fully understand the class systems and religions and whatever else there was. Aina and Kohl's relationship was honestly one of the most interesting in Diamond City and that continued in this one. Although I have to say, it kind of got icky for me. Since the beginning, I was picturing Kohl as several years older than he actually is, even after I realized he wasn't. But whatevs. Overall, I think if you really enjoyed Diamond City (and didn't so much mind the confusing world and magic system and characters that you don't always care deeply about), then you'd enjoy this one, too. I received a copy of this book electronically via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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