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A City Dreaming

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  891 ratings  ·  242 reviews
M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability, who would prefer drinking artisanal beer to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and when a rivalry between the city's two queens threatens to turn to all out war, M finds himself thrust in ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 6th 2016 by HODDER STOUGHTON (first published 2016)
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Reyiel Ananke Hi Amy,

I won the same book but it arrived safely at my place. Depending in where yoy are living it can take a while. Maybe you can contact the author…more
Hi Amy,

I won the same book but it arrived safely at my place. Depending in where yoy are living it can take a while. Maybe you can contact the author and ask him?(less)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  891 ratings  ·  242 reviews

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Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ah, this one is going to be somewhat difficult to define as a genre, for while it seems to have the trappings of an Urban Fantasy, what, with magicians in New York City, it's something a bit more and a bit less than what the genre usually offers.

What do I mean? I mean that it feels more like a collection of short stories with the same characters, with each story being a commentary on life, living in the city, on friendship, on love, on action and inaction, on power and apathy, on pure, plain
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley
Witches, wizards or magicians? I'm not sure what the protagonist, known only as M, and his friends were, but they were all capable of making and experiencing magic in New York City. Do not believe the blurb that says this is about a war between two rival magician queens. At most, there is some occasional petulance between them - there is no war. In fact the queens are barely in the book at all. Not that I missed them, but I hate it when the blurb is this misleading. Also, this isn't a novel, ...more
Althea Ann
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Our protagonist, M, is an ancient sorcerer of unimaginable power. M is also a Brooklyn slacker/hipster, with no particular concrete goals. He's in with The Management, and things tend to go his way and fall into his lap. Most of the time. Not all of the time. Because among the secret societies and hierarchies of magical New York City, not all is always peaches and cream, or craft beer and sex with models.

I ended up really enjoying this roughly-chronological set of linked short stories. I had a
Tracey the Lizard Queen
Full review at:

Urban fantasy, traditionally, gets a bad rep, especially among the holier-than-thou readers. I can say that because I freely admit to being an enormous book snob. I have been conditioned to think 'Urban' is synonymous with awful female leads, creepy shape shifting stalker-boyfriends, and that disheartening phrase paranormal romance. Ugh. The same way I automatically think reality tv stars are all thick. Probably not true (I really hope so
Lynn Williams
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A City Dreaming is such a strange and intriguing book, I admit that my expectations picking this up bear no relation whatsoever to the read itself and yet I found that I really enjoyed this nonetheless. When I started reading my first thoughts were ‘what am I reading’ and yet just a few pages into the book I found myself really keen to pick it back up. It defies description in some respects and I think this will probably turn into a bunch of random
Rjurik Davidson
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Daniel Polansky lives in New York, though I think he's originally from Maryland, which gives him the advantage of being both an insider and an outsider in the Big Apple. This liminal position is one of the things that tends to make original art -- think of the Irish writers in London and Paris -- and may go some way to explaining why 'A City Dreaming' is so excellent. The novel isn't so much about a single conflict or goal, but rather about the kind of world/New York the magician-protagonist M ...more
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016, netgalley
5 Stars

I want thank Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky is a brave and bold adventure into the depths of dark urban fantasy, or is it horror, or more likely the new weird. The streets of New York have never been this dark, and this shadow filled, or shifty, and at often times unreliable. This is a city that is on the verge or a precipe hanging between one reality and another. A door that maybe a road. A window that may be a moon. And,
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
This is a really strange, not so little book. Structurally, it resembles most closely a set of short stories which roll inexorably on from one to the next. I honestly had no idea what the endgame was until 94%, and that would usually drive me into a frenzy, but, do you know what?

I loved it.

‘It was around two in the afternoon on a hot August Saturday when M realised the rest of the people at the beach house were planning on using him as a human sacrifice.’

Oh, it’s weird and the prose reads like
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What makes a city a city? Is it just a matter of some smart urban planning, a large population and a little bit of luck, or is there something more to it? Is there an intangible element that shapes a community? What if there were people responsible for making sure that that this power kept flowing? What if those people had abilities, let’s call it magic for want of a better word? What if they had a tendency to squabble amongst themselves…a lot A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky asks those very ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Took me a bit to get into the flow of this book, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Think I say this on my reviews of Polansky's work, but I just really love his style. He has a great way with words that brings his characters to life. Just like in Low Town, the setting here is also a character. A vibrant New York filled with all sorts of wonder and horror and comedy.

M was wonderful, I loved his attitude, his humor, his quiet power. Definitely looking forward to more of his adventures.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I like Daniel Polansky. I own hard copies of all of his books, including multiple printings of some. There's just SOMETHING about his prose and style that speaks to me, something that I always seem to come back to.

However, this book is certainly inconsistent, in almost every way, with his previous works. A City Dreaming is an odd piece of magical-realism, kind of a schizophrenic Vonnegut-meets-Kerouac-meets-Lewis Carroll. It follows M, a degenerate substance abuser with some magical ability, as
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it

Loved the way this started and then it kind of began fizzling out a bit? Still think it's a much better contemporary fantasy than The Magicians but I was expecting a more cohesive narrative and less of a vignette style. Still, if you love Polansky signature with, it translates well from epic to contemporary fantasy.
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Halfway through A City Dreaming I posted this on Facebook:

"It's like Kerouac ate some really good acid and had a love child with Burroughs after time traveling to 2016. Actually it's probably not but that's the closest I can figure at about the halfway point. There's probably plenty of people who can tell me why my description is wrong, but I don't wanna be right, I just want to keep reading..."

I thought that by the end of the book that things would sort of coalesce in to a more coherent idea of
This review is based on an eARC I received from NetGalley. It is an honest review and the advanced receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

This book felt like a series of short stories with M being the main character and the world he inhabits is unlike anything I have ever read before. It seems to be commentary about M’s life, friends, and the city where he lives. It was very challenging to find the overall plot. If anything I felt that nothing made sense. There is no explanation of
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Daniel Polansky is one of my favourite authors. This book is quite a departure from other things I've read by him as it is more of an urban fantasy but I don't really want to class it like that because I'm sure it is quite different from what most people think of as urban fantasy. A City Dreaming is a love letter to New York City and doesn't really follow a nor al book structure. It's almost like Polansky pinned up every month from a clandar over a year and threw darts at it. Whatever dates they ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This will not be published until October, 2016

This is urban fantasy, kinda. It feel at times a bit "normal.' This is set in modern day New York. The author really gives a diverse look into his world. We see the slums, we see the luxurious. There is a subway that takes you through hell. This has an array of things going on, I almost want to say this is more of a series of short stories all surrounding the same character, M. I am still not sure how much I like this character, but I don't dislike
Spencer Orey
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are so many fresh ideas in each interconnected story of this short volume. I read this one about six months ago, but I can remember each story very clearly. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll say that a lot of little details, flourishes, and ideas stuck with me.

I can get burnt out on reading fantasy, and this was a fresh breeze that played with the genre in exciting ways. The main character M's bro-y sexism got on my nerves, but this little world of hipster wizards in New York is
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Quite a strange book, in that it didn't exactly have a plot, more of a collection of "slice of life" moments. Well, moment in the life of a being able to bend reality to his will, or almost, surrounding himself, whether he wants it or not, with other exceptional beings.

After years, decades of wandering around, M is back in New York, where he gets reacquainted with old friends and enemies (not mutually exclusive), gets entangled
Edward Cox
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
M is a magician, though he doesn’t think of himself as such. And it might help if you didn’t think of what he can do as magic. After quite some time away, M returns to the city that most would call New York, but not necessarily the New York that most would understand. It is an incongruity, perhaps the flipside of a recognisable stage, the surreal and wondrous underbelly that hides beneath the cast of Friends while they sit in Central Perk sipping coffee and making wisecracks about each other’s ...more
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
What on earth did I just read?
Zoe Radley
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolute gem of a book.... loved it
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, fantasy
It is no secret that Daniel Polansky is one of my favourite writers. I’ve adored all of his work that I’ve read so far—the only novel remaining unread being Those Below, which is waiting on my to be read shelves. As such, I was super excited to receive a review copy for his latest novel A City Dreaming. Reader, there was squeeing when I opened the package. I even read it close to its publication date in order to review it in a timely manner and then I got stuck. Because I had no idea how to even ...more
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
After five strong secondary world fantasy novels, this is a change of direction for Daniel Polansky. It's firmly set in a modern New York of hipsters and craft beers, but also one where the supernatural is very real. There are pirates on the Gowanus Canal, a subway ride through the circles of Hell, and goblin markets where you can buy your heart's desire. The sense of place is one of the strengths of the book. We see it all, from Wall Street financier luxury to grubby dive bars. Our hero is the ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a fantastic, unexpected read. I picked this up from the bookstore on a whim and read through it in spurts of various lengths--sometimes 100 pages at a time, sometimes just a chapter. Immediately after I finished it, I thought "I should read this again." That, for me, is a VERY rare experience.

Following M's life in a collection of connected short stories featuring a familiar cast of characters is downright fun, with healthy doses of tragedy, humor, and apathy. I always wanted to read what
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Daniel Polansky doesn't have a style. He has a voice. And like most voices--Gaiman, Hemingway, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis--it occasionally rings flat or cracks at an inopportune time. But those cracks and fissures and flat notes make the uncompromising gut punch of his voice all the more visceral. Imagine Ian Mackaye shout-singing "Pretty in Pink" at a senior citizen's talent show--sober as a judge. It makes sense if you've read his work. Polansky might paint with fantastical colors, but like ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book follows M, a powerful, magical drifter on his travels. After being away for a long time, M decides to go back to his home in New York. Although he tells no one of his return, it's only a matter of time before they figure it out. At first I didn't like how it jumped from one adventure to the next instead of a seamlessly flowing story, but, after a while, I couldn't wait to see what mess he would find himself in next! I loved this book and would gladly read more about M, Boy, Andre and ...more
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Loved it. An intriguing compilation of stories involving the mysterious character M in and about the greatest city on earth, The Big Apple, New York City, and did I mention the magic? A grown up version of fantasy adventure stories I loved as an adolescent, current, hip, just enough snarky attitude to make M rather roguishly appealing. There are several people I will highly recommend this to, and, of course, to you.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Polanksy has officially become one of my favourite authors. He doesnt write great plots. His strengths are his characters and dialogue. Oh man that dialogue. This novel doesnt feel like a cohesive story. Its more a set of stories in this self contained NYC urban fantasy world. Definitely would reccomended for someone wanting a read that is a little different.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn good. Took me a few chapters to warm up to it, but, once I was hooked, I was hooked. Polansky is a real talent.
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Flights of Fantasy: October 2017: Fantasy - A City of Dreaming 2 18 Oct 03, 2017 07:07PM  

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Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy, Empty Throne duology, the Hugo-nominated novella The Builders, and A City Dreaming. He can be found in Los Angeles, mostly.
“It surprised M not at all to discover that though the library had technically been closed for hours, there was a small door in the back that was still open, and that it led to a long, hushed corridor, and then into a chamber, which was more like the nave of an immense cathedral than the checkout room in a library. Libraries—like train stations, crossroads, church belfries, and attics—are places where worlds leak together, where the Management, in its ineffable wisdom, tends not to look too closely on what goes on.” 3 likes
“I never give anyone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to stupidity. People do very, very stupid things, and smart people more than most.” 2 likes
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