City of Dark Magic -- Magnus Flyte
Okay, so I am about 7ish books behind right now which is less than ideal because I've already had to return a few of the books I haven't reviewed yet, so forgive me if I'm a little more vague. My classes finally ended this past weekend, and as I'm sure many of you can relate, the last month of classes is always a massive, panicked scramble. Anywho, let's get caught up, shall we?
I wasn't really sure for a while if I wanted to read this book or not because on the one hand, the whole bit about Prague, and Beethoven, and seeeeecrets and mysteriessssss was seemed up my alley, but the other bits about a sexy prince and a sassy dwarf and a devious U.S. Senator felt a bit hokey. But Meg Howrey was one of the co-authors and since I did rather enjoy one of her other books, I figure I ought to give it a shot.
So, first off, Magnus Flyte is actually Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch. And I get the feeling this isn't a great big secret because I found out about this book on Howrey's website. But anyway, it seems like they're trying to amp up the mysteri-ocity with the whole, "Magnus Flyte can be quite elusive and shuns the public eye" thing, except that only really works if you're Lemony Snicket and your main demographic is twelve-year-olds (my childhood ended the day I found out Lemony Snicket isn't real).
But enough about that. Sarah Weston is a musicologist with an oddly acute sense of smell. She is summoned to Prague to replace her professor/mentor after he "falls" out of a window helping the royal family organize their collection of rare sheet music manuscripts, some by Beethoven himself, as they turn the Royal Palace into a museum for the masses.So, she goes to Prague and mysterious things abound...such as bloody corpses appearing over wells and missing crucifixes and other some such that seem to revolve around a drug that causes you to hallucinate history (essentially) and the question of how this, Beethoven, Weston's professor, and some ex-CIA-turned-senator are all related.
So, as I mentioned above, this book had somethings working for it, but also many things working against it. It definitely moved quick, though almost too quick in some parts (see: the end). While it was enjoyable during the reading, it felt more like an action movie that's entertaining to watch, but not terribly cohesive and ultimately unmemorable. Of course, that could have been inferred by the fact that the front-cover blurb is from Conan O'Brien. I mean, nothing against Conan, he's written some of my favorite Simpsons episodes, but when you're using him to sell a book, I feel like you're not targeting the literary market. My other issue, which isn't a huge deal, but it's billed as a dark and fantastical story, but really it's more reminiscent of a Cold War thriller with alchemical elements and a good dose of Beethoven references. And then the main plot sort of resolved itself and things kept...happening...and I wasn't quite sure why until some new, seemingly random plot point cropped up with not enough time to resolve it which makes me think this is going to be the first in a series. And while the ending wasn't tacked on, and made sense within the frame of the novel (kinda), it felt very rushed.
But, like I said, there were things I liked. As a massive Beethoven fan, it was nice reading a book full of Beethoven references. Sarah herself never seemed all that fleshed out, I mean her sense of smell was a character trait, but liked that she was a sexually independent female character and was a little annoyed by the slut-shaming I saw in a few other reviews. Being a dedicated academic and enjoying casual sex are NOT mutually exclusive, as some people seem to think. So it had that going for it.
Ultimately, it was one of those gripping books that draws you in for the duration, but leaves you wanting something more substantial afterwards.