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The City's Son

(The Skyscraper Throne #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,587 ratings  ·  318 reviews
Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, a ...more
Kindle Edition, US, 482 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Flux (first published August 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  1,587 ratings  ·  318 reviews

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Tom Pollock
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Well, I did write it... I'm pretty damn biased. ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
This book is an analogue to all those stories where the main characters have a deep connection to nature and supernatural elements of the natural world. London is the setting here, and every element arises from the built environment of the City.

To say Pollock has brought the City to life would be an understatement. The setting is so richly drawn and integral to the story that it really is almost a character itself. The main living characters - Fil, Beth, and Pen - are equally well realised, and
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review is from my June 2017 reread, having first read this book soon after it came out.

Beth Bradley is a young artist who has increasingly been spending time on the streets as her father fails to cope with the death of her mother. Beth's best friend Pen Khan is usually her partner in crime, but when she unexpectedly turns on her, Beth turns to the streets and an encounter with a strange teenage boy named Filius Viae. Filius's world is a very different city with train ghosts, lamp-people and
Althea Ann
'The City's Son' reminded me of Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere,' with its hidden London full of mysterious beings and supernatural elements. Indeed, London itself is the most memorable 'character' in this book.

Our 'guide,' whom the reader follows into this netherworld, is an ordinary girl, Beth. A talented artist, she's slipped into delinquency since her mother's death. Emotionally, she relies heavily on her best friend, Pen. When the evidence suggests that Pen has ratted her out and betrayed her, s
Maja Ingrid
3.5 stars

This one has been compared to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I certainly thought it sounded a little like Neverwhere and A Madness of Angels when I first found this book. But really the only common thing either of these have with each other is that they are set in a more “underground” kind of magical London. Don’t expect Neverwhere going into this. If you do, you’re up for some disappointment (I mean, nothing will ever be just like Neverwhere so).

Let’s begin with what I liked. The worldbu
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

So, on my ongoing quest to read more original and offbeat Young Adult titles, my journey has led me to The City's Son by Tom Pollock. I'd heard great things about this book, along with some descriptions of it that are just way in the realm of the bizarre and uncanny. In other words, it sounded right up my alley.

The novel follows Beth Bradley, a young graffiti artist seeking escape after being sold out by her best friend i
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
You need to know one thing before you delve into this review: I am making a conscious effort to not continue books I don't feel much for. Ever since I joined GoodReads last year, I've felt incredible guilty about DNFing novels, but on every account, I've either finished a bad book and given it a bad rating or finished a good book that just didn't work for me and given it an indifferent rating. Either way, by reading just over half the novel, I am able to discern whether the book is worth my time ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Neil Gaimon, Ben Aaronovitch and Patrick Ness
Recommended to Tim by: The publisher
4.5 out of 5

Firstly, I'd like to do a little backpedaling. To the people who have only given this book a 1 Star or a 'Didn't Finish' because it was either "too difficult" or "there was too much going on" - you are morons and I can only surmise that the writing was at a level of intelligence beyond your comprehension.

This is an intelligent YA book, oozing with charisma, beautifully detailed and not totally fixated on a vapid, predictable love triangle. You only have to watch the author interview
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

Welcome to a London come alive with voice-eating spiders, mirror-dwelling aristocrats, and talking lights that literally dance upon the streets. A London where Gods and Goddesses walk the roads unnoticed by the normal human population, and fight one another for preeminence and control over their decaying world. Welcome to Tom Pollock's The City's Son, a novel that redefines both the 'urban' and 'fantasy' in the urban fantasy genre; a novel that brings a
Urban Fantasy is a genre defined by setting and the very excellent The City’s Son is a prime example of it: in it, London comes to life and is a character as much as its protagonists. The City has its own arc and its tale interconnects with those of the other characters in both obvious and subtle ways.

The great City of London is at the brink of destruction as an old threat surfaces from the ashes and is building itself up. Reach, the King of Cranes is a God of demolition: be gone old masonry bu
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Rating 2.5

Having been completely taken aback and confused by this storyline, that didn’t stop The City’s Son from still creeping me out. All I have to say is “What just happened!?!” As far as the creep-factor, I can't quite put my finger on why I felt this way. I do know I was thoroughly confused and perplexed for most of the book, you’ll see why later. However, I have no doubt that the next installments are going to involve an epic showdown. But unfortunately, since this book wasn’t quite for m
Aanchal (Book Flame)
2.5 Stars

I've waited writing my review for this one because I've been trying to figure out what exactly it was that made me not really care for it and even now I'm still not sure, which is nerve wrecking because I always have a list of reasons why I did or did not enjoy a book.

The book itself is a YA Urban Fantasy and the synopsis sounded like something I would enjoy, it's about Fil and Beth. Beth is a sixteen year old girl who paints all of London with her street art. She has a tough life at
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. That took me a month, because of school and stuff but that was really good. I can't wait to continue on the trilogy. ...more
I love urban fantasy and was excited by the synopsis for The City's Son. When I requested it, I had no idea of the treasure I found. This urban fantasy is bloody brilliant. Pollock took me on one heck of a ride through the streets of London along the Thames River and I am still in awe about how truly magnificent this tale was. Pollock is pure genius! He weaved a breathtaking fantasy, with spectacular characters and a plot that kept me riveted.

Beth Bradley runs away after her friend betrays her
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
I seem to keep pushing off writing this review, because I'm not sure I really know what to say. Overall, I just wish I liked it more than I did. I liked the ideas of the story - which reminded me heavily of the MAtthew Swift series by Kate Griffin. (I had some issues with that story, too, mainly it felt overwritten, but reading this made me want to get back to that series.)

In some ways, this book (these books?) excapsulate what, to me, urban fantasy should be - or, at least, what it can be - a s
Beth and Pen are the closest of friends. Beth is an artist and Pen a poet and together they cope with school and family issues, but they have a particular problem at the moment with a teacher who is repeatedly bullying Pen. Beth supports her friend through this as best she can, and indulges in a touch of late-night graffiti on the school grounds in revenge.

But this leads to a schism between the two friends and Beth's expulsion. She has no support at home (her father is in a deep many-year depres
Liz Barnsley
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen.

So, in my recent book buying spree, one of the things I was specifically looking for was the next book in my quest for terrific Urban Fantasy – this one kep
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
How many times have I seen this story in the last few years, namely ordinary person stumbles into a magical other London and find themselves part of a struggle between these weird inhabitants and some other enemy? I can count at least half a dozen examples that I've read, and I was tempted to knock half a star off for having yet another London based fantasy story.

Of course, if the plot is not new, then the world building and characterisation need to make a book like this stand apart. Of the form
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Super excited to read this but will wait until a bit closer to publication date. Sounds very familiar to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman which is one of my favourite books of all time. I hope it's not a carbon copy however. ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I really wanted to give this one a higher rating, but in the end I couldn’t quite bring myself to round up to a four star rating. It wasn’t quite enough for such a thing to happen. It was a fun read yet my hopes had been higher.

To be honest, I think I went in expecting the wrong thing from this book. I found it in Poundland, which is often a case of hit and miss. Sometimes you find real gems hidden in Poundland – I mean, I found Laini Taylor the one time – and other times you find the kinds of b
Kate (VerbVixen)
Friendship is man’s greatest good. It’s a sentiment from time immemorial or at least back to Socrates. And most wondrous strange, The City’s Son feels like an old friend already. Though it is completely new and wholly unique, it sings the song of old human truths—of friendship and love, sacrifice and bravery, of fear and loss. It is the type of book that has you holding your breath to the very last page, and upon coming to that end your exhalation brings painful, blissful relief. The plot remind ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
London City is alive. When Beth and her best friend Pen are caught spraying graffiti at their school, Pen turns Beth in. Reeling from the betrayal, Beth stumbles into another London, one where railwraiths transport memories of passengers, where the lights are living glass people who dance at night, where the statues are imprisoned men, repaying their debts to their absent goddess, and where a danger threatens the very essence of the city that no one sees. And that city has a son.

Wow, I’m not sur
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: Collyn
In the black and white reactions to fantasy, I come down here on the dark side of just not buying it.

A hidden living mechanical aspect to London in which a boy holds dominion over a variety of urban creatures that serve him, loyal to his absent Mater Viae, mother of the streets: streetlamps and an adviser newly created each day of prime trash and malevolent spectral locomotives. Filius faces a challenge from Reach, another power player in the shadow world of the City, and he meets a girl called
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is young adult urban fantasy. It is set in a magical London. Sound familiar? It should, this has been done many times. What makes this worth the read is Pollack's ability to be so descriptive that it creeps you out. Like a lot of other reviewers the voice stealing, telephone wire walking spiders will stick with me for a while. So will the mirror dwellers. This city literally is alive.

For fans of Gaiman.
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was definitely an odd one but oddly compelling. Beth Bradley is suspended from school because of an unflattering piece of graffiti of one of her teachers. While wandering the city, she is attacked by a manic freight train. A strange boy who tells her that he is the Prince of the Streets saves her and introduces her to a world of which she has never dreamed. It is a world filled with Scaffwolves, Pylon Spiders, Amberlights, Blankleits, the Chemical Synod, and the Pavement Priests. Filius' ta ...more
Nov 14, 2020 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dark Faerie Tales
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: This novel puts the URBAN in fantasy, with the magic found in the oil and asphalt and metal that make London, pulling the reader in with developing characters and high stakes, even if the plot runs thin in places.

Opening Sentence: I’m hunting.

The Review:

Beth Bradley is a talented tagger. Her work stains the walls of London in everything from paint to chalk—her most recent work the portrait of a certain teacher at her school. It isn’t a flatterin
Leontiy Cristea
The City’s Son, an urban fantasy début by Tom Pollock, is a book that has me umming and ahhing and chewing my bottom lip.

I’m still not entirely sure what I thought of this book, but I am sure that it was not what I expected. Somewhere between the synopsis and the story, something was lost, swept away in the murky, magical ether between, and I’m left unsure how to explain my feelings about it.

There aren’t many books that have left me scratching my head, trying to figure out whether I’m coming or
This review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.

I’ve been waiting for a new series to fangirl over. I needed a book to crawl under my skin, to pull me in with remarkable world building. Tom Pollock does that and more with The City’s Son.

The lush descriptions of The City’s Son will immerse you into its world. So much so that you’ll see beauty of concrete, oil and urban refuse. The natural state of the urban environment sustains Fil. He’s the son of the city’s goddess Mater Viae. She dis
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Tom is a long-time fan of science fiction and fantasy, and has failed spectacularly to grow out of his obsession with things that don’t, in the strictest sense of the word, exist. He studied Philosophy and Economics at Edinburgh University. He now lives and works in London helping to build very big ships. The City’s Son is his first novel.

Other books in the series

The Skyscraper Throne (3 books)
  • The Glass Republic (The Skyscraper Throne, #2)
  • Our Lady of the Streets (The Skyscraper Throne, #3)

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118 likes · 18 comments
“Our memories are like a city: we tear some structures down, and we use rubble of the old to raise up new ones. Some memories are bright glass, blindingly beautiful when they catch the sun, but then there are the darker days, when they reflect only the crumbling walls of their derelict neighbours. Some memories are buried under years of patient construction; their echoing halls may never again be seen or walked down, but still they are the foundations for everything that stands above them.

"Glas told me once that that's what people are, mostly: memories, the memories in their own heads, and the memories of them in other people's. And if memories are like a city, and we are our memories, then we are like cities too. I've always taken comfort in that.”
“I like you as much as I like much prettier sane girl.” 4 likes
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