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City of Dark Magic (City of Dark Magic #1)

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,540 Ratings  ·  1,321 Reviews
Cosmically fast-paced and wildly imaginative, this debut novel is a perfect potion of magic and suspense

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous
Paperback, 448 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Penguin Books
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I’ve got to admit, when I saw City of Dark Magic on Netgalley, I was lured in by the pretty cover and promise of dark magic. I thought I was getting a fantasy novel set in menacing Prague that would be full of magic and portals to other worlds. This book actually turned out to be more of a contemporary spy novel with some alchemy thrown in to explain a few things. Personally, I didn’t connect with this novel or its characters and couldn
Feb 26, 2015 Tracey rated it liked it
This book (received from Netgalley) did not get off on the right foot with me. The publisher apparently thought it would be oh-so-amusing to put this little note at the very beginning:

"The manuscript of the book you are about to read arrived in the mail one day at Penguin headquarters in New York with no cover letter. It was written on stationery from the Hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech using a manual typewriter, and postmarked on the Isle of Mull. The return address was simply 'Flyte, Magnus.'
The description for this book is fantastic, and I was so excited to receive it through Penguins First Reads program. I could tell, however, after the first 15 pages that this was not going to deliver. City of Dark Magic is poorly written, includes gratuitous sex, and fails to provide any sort of development or motivation in characters. Prague is fascinating - after I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I have added it to my list of places to see. This book does not induce the same reaction. Bleh. U ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Robin rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-13
Good Lord, this was bad. more later.

Back now. Having slept on it, the book didn't improve. The main character seems to waver between "average grad student" and "clueless tramp". There's a reason you don't often see those phrases describing the same person.

I have to admit: I was disgusted in the first couple of chapters of the book, and that colored my outlook on the rest of it. Sarah, our hapless protagonist sets out to Prague to take over the study of original Beethoven material in Prague start
Dec 09, 2012 Keshena rated it really liked it
In future, 20th century popular literature will be divided into two distinct eras: pre and post Harry Potter. In the post Potter age, now that we've established that there is no shame in an adult reader enjoying an intricately plotted but fast moving fantasy yarn, books have been written catered to those of us who find ourselves in the children's and young adult aisles of B&N sooner than we'd consider the latest by Jonathan Franzen. In the last year and a half, Erin Morgenstern's The Night ...more
Sep 17, 2012 Andrienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I managed to take a peek at the other reviewers beforehand so I was guarded. I had no idea what the paranormal aspect of the book would be (if any) so I just took my time and just savored it. I usually find "dead" spots in a book, probably as fillers or some sort of wayward thinking of the author, but this book in my opinion, didn't have any! I was hooked from the beginning! It has a Dan Brown feel to it with the cryptic symbols, famous historical figures (hello Beethoven!), and the magnif ...more
Katy Jane
Jan 08, 2013 Katy Jane rated it it was amazing
LOVED despite:
1) My confusion until about 1/3 of the way through. It took me awhile to adjust to the language and style of writing and the chapters dealing with Charlotte Yates.

Reasons why this book was crazy awesome:
1) The world build was amazing. Being set in Prague with castles and death and magic made it automatically cool. (And Charlotte was correct. I had to look up the location of Prague)
2) Alchemy. This subject has always intrigued me.
3) It was s
Nov 24, 2012 Martha rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
I got this book from Penguin through Goodreads First Reads.

This book is entirely driven by the plot. There are no strong characters and the writing is nothing special. That being said, it is a compelling read. The writing is lazy and clunky, but it manages to tell an intriguing story nonetheless.

The character development is clumsy and not subtle in the least. Characters feel more like caricatures - a brilliant, eccentric professor; a passionate Italian roommate; an over-sexed lesbian; a cold-hea
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
Feb 16, 2015 colleen the fabulous fabulaphile rated it did not like it
Shelves: library-read
So, that just happened.

Debating between 1 and 2 stars.


Some DaVinci Code-esque kinda thing with an American senator, some lost Prague royalty, Beethoven, time-altering-drugs (with some sci-babble about energy signatures and glial cells), a blind musical prodigy and her Mexican butler/nanny/friend, random sex - (view spoiler)
Aug 23, 2013 Chris rated it did not like it
Recently someone wondered why you should review something you couldn’t finish. The implication in that statement is that such a review is unfair because things change. There’s truth in that – of course a bad book can get better and a good book can be ruined. Additionally if a reader, for whatever reason, finds it impossible to continue a book, isn’t important to know? The reviewer can determine if the review is of any help.

I do try to be fair when I review books I don’t finish. If I stop at the
1,5 stars

What is it with authors/publishers and wrong labelling of books? This book is a fiction with suspense and historical elements.

Contrary to what the title might let you think, there is no magic and despite what is said in the blurb "City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-co paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year." this is NOT a paranormal novel. Same goes for the romance part.

Saying that a city is a threshold is in no way
Oct 05, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Prague is a wonderful setting for a mystery, a romance, a well, just about anything. Unfortunately, "City of Dark Magic" might as well have been set in Rhinebeck, NY for all the atmosphere it had. While ostensibly we are following the increasingly mysterious adventure of music grad student, Sarah Weston, she's just not that interesting. Her love interest is pretty lame and about as dull as she is. The two most interesting characters in the book, Pols and Nico, seemed wasted as we followed around ...more
This mystical mystery was compelling, wry, interesting and just weird enough to be fun and fantastical. Initially, I did expect a bit more "magic" in this book ala witches, warlocks, mages or shamans (well, maybe not shamans in Prague...). The magic in this book is a bit more psychedelic although not of a traditional pharmaceutical persuasion. Given the alchemy that has taken place in Prague over the centuries one has attribute some of the magic to the city itself.

This story had a strong beginni
Rebecca Lovatt
Nov 13, 2012 Rebecca Lovatt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte — the pseudonym of authors Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch — had an interesting concept. Flyte obviously did their research of Beethoven’s life, and the twist with his “Immortal Beloved” was an interesting take on it.

However, that’s unfortunately about the best I can say about City of Dark Magic, It was through sheer force of will that I finished this novel. The writing seems to be at an amateur level at best; the plot scattered and in general, just a mess. Ther
Holly Herda
Dec 26, 2012 Holly Herda rated it it was ok
Shelves: disappointments
The first comparison that comes to mind when I think of "City of Dark Magic" is another book--"The Night Circus." Readers who were disappointed by that may understand where I'm coming from in regards to this. This book had a lot of good things going for it: mysterious alchemical symbols, ancient artifacts, well-known historical figures given much due credit via flashbacks, an intriguing setting, a cast of quirky supporting characters, and a smart heroine. Of course, our heroine is also a huge sl ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Skip rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Prague is a great backdrop for a fantasy novel. Sarah Weston is recruited to help catalog the original works of Beethoven for the Lobkowicz family musuem when her thesis advisor dies under mysterious circumstances. Like many of today's musical geniuses, it is implied that Beethoven was a drug addict, which Sarah discovers while mentally time-traveling under the influence herself. Throw in a little espionage, a lot of sex and murder, cover-ups, and you have the makings of this novel. From the wri ...more
Suspense Magazine
An unusual title, “City of Dark Magic” is the debut brainchild of Christina Lynch and Meg Howrey—writing under the pseudonym Magnus Flyte—and is a difficult book to classify into one specific genre. Murder and suspense are key, but dashes of paranormal and undertones of fantasy take this book into not often seen territory. For suspense and thriller fans, I’d compare “City of Dark Magic” to King’s The Dark Tower series or to Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” solely because when you thi ...more
Sep 27, 2012 Karyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arc
At first I was going to give this book a higher rating, but as I started writing my review I remembered more and more of the little things that annoyed me. First the good: the book was an engaging read, with fabulous use of the history of Prague and the many quirky figures that have lived there. The alchemy tossed throughout was great fun, and far more interesting than if it had been straight magic.

This book is a spy thriller in fantasy wrappings. The title, author's pseudonym, and cover shout "
Jan 06, 2013 Patti rated it liked it
I like this book. It reminded me of Deborah Harkness's book without the vampires thankfully. I think it was well done, well thought out. An interesting take on some history that makes it feel more real, dealing with Beethoven. It was not too paranormal, but just enough to give it kind of a fun, quirky feel. I did think that the relationship between the two protagonists was good. Little bit of gratuitous sex or kind of uncomfortably described sex. It was sort of out of place almost.
Whitley Birks
Jun 11, 2014 Whitley Birks rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I…honestly have no idea what to think about this book. It was just so…strange. Not always in a good way.

Though this book had some interesting concepts in it, none of them really came together well. The plot had too many subplots, and instead of coming together, most of these just sort of…existed in the same space. What did time travel and KGB agents have to do with each other? Not a damn thing. Seriously. In fact, I’m not sure why the ‘time travel’ was included, other than for some fun descripti
Apr 06, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it the thing you have to understand about this book is you can't take it too seriously (don't let the cover art fool you). Now that I know that, I like it better. It is a fun book masaquerading as a well thought-out historical, cerebral, diabolical, espionagal, everythingal, Tom Clancyal,, piece of 21st Century Literature. It is not.

It took me a while to figure this out. First, being a little slow on the draw, I didn't realize that Magnus Flyte was really two women writing the boo
City of Dark Magic follows Sarah Weston, a musicology grad student, on a trip to Prague for a mysterious summer job identifying and cataloging items related to Beethoven (her area of expertise). She quickly becomes entangled a complicated web of history, secrets, mysteries, romance, alchemy and...Cold War Era spies? For real?

The sections of the book pertaining to Sarah were the main draw for me. Sarah's curiosity gets the best of her and she finds that there is more going on in Prague than a si
Dec 07, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it
Very good, other than the gratuitous and somewhat off-putting sex scenes. From Amazon: Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.
Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin
Wow! What a great book! I actually stayed up until midnight one night reading this book- it was that good. Sarah Weston is a P.h. D. candidate in musicology who grew up on the tough streets of South Boston. She is hired to work at the Lobkowicz Castle in Prague to catalog and perform archival work on sheets of music penned by Beethoven. While in Prague, she learns of her beloved professor's "suicide" and vows to look into the circumstances of his death. While performing her job duties, she is su ...more
Jess The Bookworm
Mar 28, 2016 Jess The Bookworm rated it did not like it
This book was terrible, and I actually don't even feel like going too much into it, except to say that the main character was beyond stupid and annoying.

The only reason I finished this book is that it sort of started off with promise, and I was on holiday, and then I was half way before I realised I really loathed it, but then it seemed lame not to finish it.

That is all.
Rebecca Skane

Beethoven, Prague, hell portals, alchemy, princes, drugs, a four hundred year old little person and lots of crazy, wild sex. The music history centered around the history of an old royal family was well thought out. A lot of work went into this. Full review: City of Dark Magic Book Review
Danielle (is trying to escape reality)
Dnf about 100 pages in. Kind of weird and not engaging enough for me to care.
Mar 16, 2016 Lindsay rated it did not like it
1.5 stars
Audrey Webster
Sep 20, 2014 Audrey Webster rated it liked it
I have to say I was initially extremely excited for this book simply because it looked like an easy and light-hearted read with some humor and good characters (not to mention the cover is pretty awesome), but 70 pages in, I was proven wrong. The plot just seems very sporadic. It's seriously all over the place. I am impressed that the author could take so many different aspects and somehow weave them into a story that somewhat made sense, but still very random. Also, how many raunchy sex scenes a ...more
Feb 09, 2013 Sara rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Magnus Flyte is a pseudonym for the writing duo of Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch. Howrey is a former dancer with the Joffrey II and the winner of an Ovation Award. She is the author of the novels The Cranes Dance and Blind Sight and lives in Los Angeles. Lynch is a television writer and former Milan correspondent for W Magazine. She lives near Sequoia National Park in California.
More about Magnus Flyte...

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“Only the passionate were immortal, it seemed. If you fought, screwed, screamed, laughed, or otherwise experienced life intensely, for better or worse, you left a record. Those who lived a quiet, well-behaved, well-tempered life? Gone without a trace.” 37 likes
“What do you know that you’re not telling me?"
"I don’t know what you know, so I don’t know what you don’t know.”
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