by Elizabeth Richards
Series: Black City #1
Published by: Penguin
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war. In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
I fell in love with the cover of Black City last year, but my tbr pile got in the way and then Penguin sent me Phoenix book two and I knew I just had to read this. Richards’ offers us a post-apocalyptic love story that is bittersweet and wrapped in a dark and gritty world filled with propaganda, a ruthless leader and danger at every turn. I enjoyed this and quickly slipped into the world of Black City.
When we enter the city we discover a dark and decaying world. The tale is told in the alternating perspective of Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling and Natalie Buchanan, daughter of the Emissary and human. Darklings and humans are separated by a huge wall and tension is escalating. Half-bloods are permitted to live with their human parents, and laws expressly forbid further mixing or breeding of races. When Ash and Natalie meet a bond is formed and Ash’s dormant heart begins to beat. A Romeo and Juliet romance, political upheaval, betrayal, danger and love are revealed as the tale unfolds.
When we meet Ash he has such a bad boy persona; drug dealer, law breaker and full of attitude, but in truth he is complicated, torn, sweet, and protective. He does not really fit in and the more I learned about him, the more I liked him. Natalie struggles with a lot of issues and really started out living in her own, “me” bubble. In fact I thought she was spoiled and shallow. Watching her develop as a character and to expand her views beyond herself was amazing. She is selfless, strong, kick-ass and I adored her. When the two of them meet, there is chemistry but they also dislike each other due to “race” issues. I found it powerful and fascinating to watch them recognize qualities they admired in each other and connect. There are secondary characters of interest that really help develop and strengthen the world Ash and Natalie live in. I felt they were all fairly developed and I loved that Richard’s made me connect with them whether it was because I loathed them, respected them or just out and out hated them.
In a world where loving a Darkling will see both human and darkling executed, this tale had a real Romeo and Juliet romance. What made this unique was the dark, gritty, brutal world that Richards placed them in. She gave us a really strong sense of the atrocities that humans inflicted upon Darklings with their leader Puritan Rose. It is a time of unrest, food shortages, and social gaps with a religious dictator ruling them all. Add in a deadly virus and things get interesting! She does a fantastic job of revealing the government’s propaganda further drawing us into the tale. The Darklings were fascinating and I enjoyed learning about the different breeds through Natalie. Hatred, addiction and an oppressive government are all hot topics and each thread was developed. The pacing was well done and I easily slipped into the world, the dual POV’s allowed me to gain an in-depth look at the characters. Their thoughts and actions also providing me insight into the two races. There are a few threads and hints of things that have me anxious for answers! I consumed this in two sittings and connected with the characters. The ending had my emotions all over the place and set things up perfectly for book two.
Fans of dark worlds, post-apocalyptic dystopians and Romeo and Juliet will enjoy Black City. Phoenix releases in June 2013, and is the second book in this trilogy.
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