Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Book Review of Black Queen, White City by Sonya Kudei

The people:
Leo Solar is a star daimon, a celestial being with powers so vast that he can literally blow up a sun (but not in a bad way - it's all perfectly safe). This is why when he gets sent to Earth, more specifically, his least favorite part of it (Zagreb, Croatia) with curtailed powers to undertake a dangerous frustrating mission, he is not the happiest star daimon in town. 
Dario is a twenty-something former Zagreb University student whose search for meaning is continuously thwarted by the demands of his eccentric landlady. After he accidentally meets a mysterious stranger in a starry outfit who goes around town battling monsters from the Underworld, Dario's life suddenly takes an interesting turn, and he soon finds himself caught in a flurry of action that includes the celestial realm above, a hidden magic realm below and the erstwhile ordinary Zagreb somewhere in between.

The Black Queen
The legend:
The Black Queen is a semi-mythical 15th century personage who not only continues to captivate the imagination of the residents of Zagreb, but apparently also plots to captivate the city itself - literally - despite being somewhat dead.

The places:
The White City is a quiet picturesque place in Central/Southeast Europe with a thrilling secret history. Some people call it Zagreb.
The Celestial Realm (a.k.a. "outer space") is a place where star daimons with enormous powers and questionable hairstyles perform valiant deeds in order to maintain the balance of the universe while engaging in petty inter-stellar squabbles and meddling with the affairs of Earth.

All of these people, places and fictional constructs come together in an over-caffeinated romp that reaches an action-packed culmination on October 31, colloquially referred to by locals as the Night of the Witches.
Also making an appearance are magic trams, football hooligans, belligerent egg-sellers, jaded small dogs, miniature monks, seductive snake-women and sadistic primary school teachers.

*We were given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

This story started a little slow for me but quickly picked up the pace and threw me into an engrossing adventure. In all honesty, the narrator was my favorite. The witty way this story was told made all the difference for me. I loved how the story was being told and that made me want to keep reading. 

Black Queen, White City is a blend of history and fantasy/magical elements. I liked this combination and was always eager to come upon a backstory section so I could try to learn more about what was going on. Leo was one of my favorite character's and I liked the element of having a character from the Celestial Realm. 

Readers of fantasy, science fiction, and adventure should add Black Queen, White City to their reading list. I am looking forward to more from Sonya Kudei and her funny, charming way of storytelling. 

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Born in Zagreb in 1981, Sonya Kudei has been writing fiction since she was about six. Once (or maybe twice) in the mid or late ‘90s, she was awarded first prize in the junior short story competition at the annual Zagreb SciFi convention. Although her memory of the stories has subsequently become a bit vague, she is fairly certain they featured either radioactive aliens or giant killer plants or possibly both.

She studied English Language and Literature (BA) and Cognitive Linguistics (MA) as well as dabbling with classical studies, Germanic languages, philosophy and art history, among other things. She has worked as a graphic/web designer, illustrator, journalist, subtitle translator, editor, teacher, product manager and (very briefly) tourist guide in Venice. In addition, she was a web developer in London for over five years.

Sonya is also a painter, with a penchant for Early Renaissance art, and a keen practitioner of obscure 15th-century painting techniques, some of which involve eggs. Occasionally she draws comics.

Currently based in St Albans, England, she has been living in the UK for over ten years.

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