Tuesday, September 30

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett


Once upon a time the gods reigned supreme. But then a catastrophe, called the Blink, wiped them out. The government that rose up worked to erase any mention of the gods, trying to cover up history and censor their subjects. The oppressors rule with an iron fist.

Shara Thivani enters into the city of Bulikov as a junior diplomat from the city’s oppressors. Unofficially she is one of their top spies, and she was sent to investigate a murder. Joining her is her ‘secretary’ Sigrud, a giant of a man who causes grown men to quake in their boots.

During her investigation, Shara begins to question: Are the gods are truly gone or if there is some remnant of their power still at play? Throw in former lovers and secret organizations and the air of mystery in Bulikov grows thicker.


City of Stairs is one of the more unique fantasy stories I’ve read in a while. The setting of the novel made reminded me of an industrial European country. At times the mystery/spy angle almost made me forget that this was a fantasy novel (which I thought was great). There was a history to the world that felt as if it read even deeper than what was presented in the story.

At times the exposition seemed a little much and some chapters were a little long winded, but I found myself drawn into the story enough that most of the time I was able to overlook it. It also helped that the characters were interesting. Sigrud in particular was a favorite, though I also found Shara to be a fascinating character.

Though I’m not sure if there will be any more books set in this world, I certainly hope so. I would love to see what this world looked like before (or even during) the Blink, and I would love to see what happens in the world at the end of this novel.

I’ve never ready a novel by Robert Jackson Bennett before, but after this one I may just have to seek out his other writing. If they engross me anywhere near as much as this one then he’s gained a new fan.

4/5 Stars

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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