I’m so, SO glad that I was able to get my hands on the ARC for this. I really loved the first book in this series, “City of the Dead”, and it’s refreshing to see Shan’s style take a grittier turn than what we’ve seen with the “Cirque du Freak” and “Demonata” series, respectively.
Folks, this is YA fantasy noir at its best. And while the protagonist in this book wasn’t quite as charming as the one in the first (hence, only four out of five stars), but still really good. We’re back in the world with the Cardinal and working for him, having breakfast at Shankar’s, and living at Party Central. It feels SO good to be back in this mystery world filled with Incan gods, assassins, and the mob.
I love how Shan isn’t afraid to explore the darker side of humanity in these books in a stream-of-consciousness style with his characters – we really get into Al Jeery’s head and heart and how he feels about everything (from his cop buddy to his job with the Cardinal). This has definitely developed and evolved leaps and bounds compared to the first book’s protagonist. I really felt as if I were Al Jeery myself, walking in his shoes, killing his victims. It was really quite awesome.
I think it’s fair to say that “The City” series is heaps more fine-tuned in terms of voice and POV than Shan’s other books, and this really makes “Hell’s Horizon” fly by – to the point where by the end of the book, all you want to do is to keep living in that city, assassins and mafia or not. I kind of felt a jonesing for the third book (and apparently, the final book?) in the series immediately after finishing this one. And you know you’ve written something good when that happens.
So, if you don’t really like Shan’s other work, try this one. It’s totally different than anything else he’s written, and better than anything else he’s written so far. I think you’ll like what you’ll find in the mysterious City, and you’ll want to move there to stay.