Review: The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney (Golden City #1)


The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney // VBC ReviewThe Golden City (The Golden City #1)
J. Kathleen Cheney
Published: Nov. 5, 2013 (Roc Trade)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Oriana Paredea is a seria (think a siren or mermaid). She’s been in The Golden City for two years spying on the aristocracy for her people, trying to root out non-human sympathizers. Years ago the sea folk (seria, selkies, and otterfolk) were cast out of Portugal due to the Prince’s conviction that his death would be brought about by one of their people. Oriana finally landed in the perfect position as a lady’s companion.

Besides having access to a wealth of information to pass along, Oriana forms a friendship with her charge, Isabel Amaral. When Isabel decides to elope, Oriana chooses to accompany her to Paris. The girls barely make it out of the house before they are attacked and Oriana has to watch her only friend die. Was the attack as random as ‘wrong place, wrong time’? Or were Oriana and Isabel targeted specifically?

Oriana is only concerned with one thing, finding justice for her friend. Unbeknownst to Oriana, she’ll find an ally in Duilio Ferreira, a police consultant who has been investigating a series of unsolved disappearances. Oriana’s attack and attempted murder is not the first The Golden City has seen in the last few months, nor is it believed to be the last. However, there have been roadblocks in the investigation leading him to suspect someone in the higher echelons of power is pulling the strings. Duilio believes Oriana may be the key to finally solving this mystery. Duilio is not without his own hidden agenda in this case, but with their loyalties lying in different directions, will Oriana and Duilio be able to work together?

The Golden City is a mystery first and foremost. The inclusion of magic and sea folk was just icing on the cake for me. As I’ve found with many mysteries, the pacing can be slow going at times, with moments of intrigue added in to more than likely make sure you’re paying attention to the story. The twists and turns are numerous and frequent. Cheney introduces a lot of secondary characters that I desperately want to know more about.

But it’s Oriana and Duilio that make the story. The pair work great together, their chemistry is apparent from the beginning, and I found myself wishing they had more page time together. For all that The Golden City takes place in 1902 I found myself yelling “F— Propriety!”to my Kindle multiple times because that seemed to be a hindrance on furthering their relationship. They are both unassuming and not your typical alpha male or fierce heroine, although they are both very determined and capable. I like the direction Cheney takes with Oriana and Duilio (however frustrating) and I can’t wait to see if/when they’ll get a Happily Ever After.

The mythology concerning the sea folk was probably my second favorite thing about this book. They are definitely an intrinsic part of this world created but since the action of the story takes place in Portugal and away from the seria island, focus is taken away slightly. With the turn of events in The Golden City I’m hoping we’ll get a better look in the next book. If you enjoy a good traditional mystery with the inclusion of the supernatural, The Golden City is for you.

Sexual content: References to sex

2 Responses to “Review: The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney (Golden City #1)”

  1. dr susan says:

    Oh, I loved The Golden City!! And The Seat of Magic is excellent!!

    • Amy says:

      I would have picked up Seat of Magic immediately after reading The Golden City but there’s always something else to read first. I’m excited to read it though and happy to hear you liked it.

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