City of Fae by Pippa DaCosta
Reviewed by Kayla Dean
ISBN: 9781408868720 (Ebook)
Bloomsbury Spark — 336 pages.
When we conjure up a mental image of a fairy, most of us would dream of an ethereal, benign figure with wings. Maybe she can fit in the palm of your hand, or she is tall, lean, and beautiful beyond her years. But there’s something different about Pippa DaCosta’s view of fairies. City of Fae certainly doesn’t read like a typical fairy novel.
If anything, this novel could easily be compared to a comic book. The only difference is that instead of animations, you have three hundred pages of urban fantasy to draw you in. At the center of all the action is Alina, an out-of-work reporter from America. This story, on some level, is like a comic book in that an ordinary person meets up with an extraordinary world. It’s also an urban fantasy based in London. While we don’t get much by way of scenery and deep characterization of the place, we do see that the setting is integral to the plot because the Fae burrow under London, away from the humans.
Alina finds herself on the subway platform with no memory of how she got there. She’s lost and alone, and the guy sitting next to her isn’t who she thinks he is. Enter Reign, the resident bad-boy Fae, who just so happens to be a rock-star. He’s also gorgeous, but there’s just one problem: he’s a public enemy. For some reason, the Fae police are after him, and it’s up to Alina to find out why. If she can get a cover story, she might just be able to get her job back.
But obviously, nothing is simple in a world where Fae and humans are on the edge of an epic clash. It was only a few generations ago that Fae were expelled from their world and sent into ours. Humanity’s only choice was to accept their place in our world. But the cracks are starting to show: someone was murdered at Reign’s party. But who killed her? Alina wants to know.
Things get even hairier when the evil Fae queen sends thousands of spiders after Alina to trap her. Reign and Alina travel to the Fae’s underground city, but that only makes the queen angrier. And the mysteries only keep piling up. Alina starts to wonder if a front page story is even worth it. Worse yet, her dreams and memories make her question her identity. And after some serious hell breaks loose, a local detective gets involved in the case, putting everything at risk for Alina.
The most interesting part of this story was the plot twist that DaCosta gave Alina. I did not see it coming, and it’s honestly too good to share. But I can tell you one thing: Alina is not who you think she is, and the plot to make her believe the lies are elaborate.
Reign is not really a mysterious character in the novel; he really does not have that much depth. While it seems that DaCosta wanted to create a multilayered, intense, and brooding man for Alina to love, what results is an unfortunate trope of a bad-boy millionaire rock star who loves an ordinary girl.
Throughout the novel, DaCosta suggests that Reign and Alina’s love is fraught. Fae harvest something called draiocht from humans, and they need it to live. Unfortunately for the couple, Alina’s touch affects Reign in ways that neither of them can explain. The problem with their relationship is that it isn’t terribly compelling. Since Alina has a shifting, vague identity, and Reign is something of a playboy, we don’t get a strong sense of why they care about one another.
Also, the blurb tells us about the four keepers that were powerful enough to keep the evil queen locked away from the people, yet this seems like a subplot to Alina’s personal issues. While this could have been a great, complex element of Fae history that DaCosta could have explored, it didn’t leave us with a lot of information about why there had to be four keepers. Before the last keeper died, he didn’t really explain to Alina why he was the only one that kept the queen locked up.
If you are afraid of spiders, I can honestly say that you will find the queen terrifying. She’s not a human-shaped Fae: she’s a spider! And if that isn’t terrifying enough, she is larger than a person and has thousands of tiny arachnids following her around.
DaCosta’s vision of fairies will definitely give you the chills. I recommend reading this book if you like evil fairies, spiders, or comic books. This might seem like a strange fusion of ideas, but I would go as far as to say that this book might really be a hit with the right reader. However, go in at your own risk if you do not like bad-boy rockstars as the main love interest. Some people might find the tropes and unusual fantasy elements off-putting, but other people will love its quirky appeal.
After you read this book, you might have a reformed image of fairies, and a different sense of London’s underground tunnels. Maybe next time you crave an urban fantasy, you might want to check out Pippa DaCosta’s City of Fae to get your own spin on events in this cross-genre fantasy.