Reviewed by: Margaret
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: While review will be spoiler free, it does make reference to previous books in the series.
House of the Rising Sun was one of my favorite books of the year, so this sequel had some pretty big shoes to fill. I didn’t like it quite as much, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. City of Eternal Night picks up about a week later with Harlow and Augustine starting to get adjusted to their new roles—his as Guardian of the city and hers as a Fae living in New Orleans.
It’s almost Mardi Gras and the Fae are preparing for the Exemplar Krewe Ball. The ball features the symbolic kidnap and ransoming of the Faery Queen, kind of like the Fae version of the Homecoming Queen, who is the daughter of Loudreaux, the head of the Elektos, the Fae city council, and not Augustine’s biggest fan. But her kidnapping turns out to be real and the ransom demand is Augustine’s death.
Before everything goes wrong, though, the masquerade ball is absolutely wonderful. I love the elaborate magical costumes that adjust themselves to the wearer—that’s Harlow’s Mother Nature dress on the cover. There’s even a magical cocktail created especially for the ball. Between the Fae and the witches, City of Eternal Night features some really fantastic magic.
At the same time, Augustine’s still trying to solve the murder of one of the Guardian’s lieutenants from the last book. His investigation once again leads him to Giselle and the witches, who are still up to some political scheming. One of the things Kristen Painter does especially well is create villains who are not exactly sympathetic, but understandable. Giselle reminds me of Tatiana from the House of Comarré series in that sense. She’s certainly misguided and I don’t want her plot to destroy the Fae to succeed, but I also kind of want to be happy for her when she gets a new boyfriend.
I really love the supporting cast in this series! It’s so much fun to see Augustine’s lieutenants Cy and Neikos explain their powers to Harlow and to learn about Fae magic and traditions. Lally reveals some of her secrets too and I was pretty proud of myself for having part of it figured out. Fans of the Comarré series will also recognize some familiar faces in this one.
I know some readers didn’t like Harlow in the first book, though I just thought she was sheltered and naïve, rather than self-centered, but I promise she’s better. She gets to show off some of her hacker skills which makes her feel grown up and useful, to herself and to me, and she starts to come out of her shell and make some friends.
My biggest complaint is that Augustine and Harlow both spent a lot of time at the beginning of the book thinking about whether they should pursue their feelings for each other. It’s YA-level relationship angst that just seems out of place to me. It also made for kind of a slow start.
But once it got going, I really enjoyed the story. There’s a plot twist I never expected and a cliffhanger ending. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one.
Sexual content: kissing