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Review of City of Burning Shadows by Barbara J. Webb

Review of City of Burning Shadows by Barbara J. WebbCity of Burning Shadows by Barbara Webb
on March 12th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Sci-Fi
Pages: 344


Joshua “Ash” Drake is a man in hiding.

Hiding from the past, from the horror of his life as a priest after the gods disappeared.
Hiding from his emotions, denying the nightmares that haunt his sleep and the anger that fuels his days.

Most of all, hiding from the truth—that no matter how much he keeps his head down, no matter how he clings to the echoes of everyday life, his city—his world—is dying.

When a new technology offers salvation to his desperate city, Ash must reach out to people he left behind and step back into the world that almost killed him. But coming out of hiding now could be the worst mistake Ash has ever made.

Because there are monsters in the darkness, feeding the chaos, watching the city burn. And once those monsters know his name, Ash will never be able to hide again.

They used to call Miroc the city where even the gods wouldn’t walk alone after dark. Now the gods are gone, I don’t know what they toss around to scare the tourists, but the sentiment remains true.

We’d been in love, but life had intervened.

But human nature is what it is, and division breeds competition, which breeds separation and resentment and … well, you get the idea.

I. Loved. A sci-fi book. This is a first. I’m so proud of myself, and I have Webb to thank for it. And Mr. Mark Lawrence for hosting The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off!

So first off, this story is rather hard to summarize. It’s got a lot going on. If I really boil it down, it’s about a priest and his quest to save his city. It’s so much more than that, though.

The world is incredibly built. Gods have abandoned it, leaving it to turn upon itself. The priests of these gods are treated poorly by most. There’s some great races in here, each belonging to one of the gods. The setting has a post apocalyptic feel without it being trope. The city still functions, somewhat. There’s a council that’s barely holding things together. People still work, but most of the city has gone to hell.

What I loved most was how well the world was described. It was familiar enough that I could easily imagine it, yet unique enough that I was completely intrigued. Oh, and it had magic! I love magic! So it made everything so much more wonderful. It had the perfect amount of detail to please both the world building fans as well as those who find world building tedious.

Oh, and let me tell you how wonderfully delightful I found the pacing. The story moved. When there wasn’t action, there was something as equally enthralling. And the action scenes were done brilliantly. I eased into them and had vivid pictures running around in my head. This would make a great movie, by the way.

As far as the characters, I found each developed nicely. Obviously our main protagonist was done brilliantly. Ash had a rough past, and might have withdrawn a bit, but when push came to shove, he was there. Definitely a guy you can get behind and root for. I’m not character obsessed. I wish I was. But the world was enough to make up for it. As I said, the other characters were great as well. All felt fleshed out, each with their own voice, each having a great impact.

I’ll tell you, the last 80% flew by. There was so much going on, so many questions, so much treachery around every corner, that you actually felt the same despair as the characters. I wanted to cave to panic right along side Ash. Though it took me a long time to read it, it wasn’t the book’s fault. Life got in the way. When I did have time, I blew through it.

So overall, if you’re hesitant about sci-fi, I’d recommend this. If you’re a hard core fan, I think you’d enjoy it. I plan on recommending it to quite a few people. It’s one of those self-published books that should get some more attention.

About Barbara Webb

Growing up in a house that included a library of thousands of science fiction and fantasy books, Barbara J. Webb had no choice but to become a writer herself.

A midwesterner at heart, Barbara has lived in Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas, but finally settled in only two blocks away from the house in which she was born. She enjoys her small-town life with her husband and her cat, and occasionally dreams of keeping horses. Or even better, unicorns.

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