City of Spells finds the world on the brink of war and four unlikely allies facing sacrifices they had never imagined.
After the loss of Wesley and the horrifying reveal that Zekia is helping the Kingpin of her own free will, Tavia, Saxony, and Karam flee to Saxony's home to rebuild their rebellion. Meanwhile, trapped in the Kingpin's darkness, Wesley must fight against the deadly magic that invades his mind and find a way back to his friends before it's too late.
As the Kingpin's dark magic spreads and his army conquers Creije, these four unlikely friends have to decide just how far they’ll go―and how much they are willing to sacrifice―to win.
Alexandra Christo is a British author whose characters are always funnier and far more deadly than she is. She studied Creative Writing at university and graduated with the desire to never stop letting her imagination run wild. She currently lives in Hertfordshire with a rapidly growing garden and a never-ending stack of books. Her debut novel To Kill a Kingdom is an international bestseller and her Young Adult fantasy books have been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide.
I really enjoyed Into The Crooked Place last year and was thrilled to get a Netgalley copy of City of Spells. Well Alexandra Christo has captured me again as I could not put this book down. It started with a gasp and a bang and did not let up. Being reunited with these characters felt so good and I loved to see their growth. They are more complex than their original introduction and I enjoyed learning more secrets about many of their pasts. The story was of action and heartbreak, betrayal and world ending heroics. The depth of damage that some of these characters experienced both physically and mentally was written so well and I really appreciated that they tried to support each other in understanding that it was okay to not be automatically okay after what they've been through. There was even potential for some healing at the end. Though I love that this is a duology (the perfect series length in my opinion) I also would love to see more and more of this complex magical world play out because the different magic and spells were such a draw in this story.
There aren't enough stars in the WORLD to give to this book, oh my god. From the very first page, I adored INTO THE CROOKED PLACE, and CITY OF SPELLS was a long-awaited book that had me gripped from the first page as well.
Alexandra Christo has created a rich, detailed, stunning world full of magic, charms, tricks, underdogs, and dark crime mingled with magic. Usually, I'm hit-and-miss with second books, especially when the first ends in a fight, and it's fantasy, but CITY OF SPELLS didn't have that cliche feel to it. I usually don't take to gathering a rebellion sort of type for second books but *God* this book outdid itself.
Wesley, Saxony, Tavia, and Karam: I would die for you. All of you. With all of your messiness, imperfections, annoyances, flaws, histories, and beautiful banter and relationships with each other. These four led me on a wild tornado of a journey full of loss, love, plot twists, family reveals, and literally anything and everything. This duology has it all: childhood friends to lovers, f/f as one of the main relationships, found family, angst, hurt, soft moments. This crooked crew gripped my heart and will never let go. This isn't a story to forget. This is one that'll stay on my shelves and never be forgotten. It was magic incarnate. It was a dream; it felt like home in books.
I don't even have proper words to formulate the plot because I just have so many overwhelmed messy emotions for this book, and every single one of them is amazing. The only sad part was that it ended, and there aren't more in the series. However, I want to write about Wesley and Dante. Their dynamic pierced me through, and hit home a lot, the way Wesley was enticed and reeled in, unbeknownst to him, only to fight back, and rise up, to seek revenge on his own ruined past. CITY OF SPELLS sews up torn bonds, heals open wounds, and brings closure to the most torn stories that scatter the pages. I am utterly in love. Wesley Thornton Walcott *is* the newest addition to my comfort characters, and YES he has father issues, and YES that's My Shit, and YES he's totally in love with his best friend and won't say anything about it, and YES, he's self-deprecating whilst balancing dizzying confidence and arrogance. I love him so, so much. I love the entire gang. I love, love, LOVE them.
INTO THE CROOKED PLACE duology is happily nestled in my heart forever.
Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of City of Spells, in exchange for an honest review!
Ahhh it was so good to be back in this world. After the cliffhanger ending of Into the Crooked Place, I desperately needed to know what happened to Wesley! Separated from the rest of the crew and held against his will by the Kingpin, Wesley is enduring torture of different kinds. The torture to his body he can endure, but knowing he can't convince his child captor, Zekia, to leave the Kingpin and escape with him is torture in itself.
Meanwhile, Tavia has had to step into Wesley's shoes, not knowing where he is and when she'll see him again. It's not an easy task though - Tavia isn't a killer and doesn't want to have to do the things Wesley did. But the Kingpin's dark magic is spreading fast and there are reports of him taking over entire cities. They're going to need Wesley back.
There were some characters introduced in Into the Crooked Place that I wished had more airtime and City of Spells provided! Once again, the story was told from multiple points of view and I actually loved the way each person's point of view would often finish on a reveal or mini cliffhanger. It meant you had to read another character's chapter before finding out what was going on, but it made it so tense and exciting! The whole book was action packed and, although we didn't need as much world building this time, being the a second book, the descriptions of the places we hadn't explored much in book one were rich and detailed. The brilliant banter from book one was still evident in this book too (I was a little worried we'd miss out on that due to Wesley and Tavia being apart, but the other character's stepped up to the plate).
If you enjoyed Into the Crooked Place, make sure you pick this one up ASAP and if you haven't started the series yet and love dark, gritty stories, full of magic and underworld bosses, make sure you check this series out!
While I wasn’t wholly engulfed by the ingenuity of Into The Crooked Place, Christo did tempt me to grasp for the pages again due to her stream of thriller moments. Politics and nifty schemes play an efficient hand in this novel’s exposition, and the plot described the process of corruption of the innocuous in war as well, a very prominent and mindful theme for today’s situation
The hierarchical system as they know it is all in disorder, and Tavia, Karam and Saxony are now left to pick up the pieces. Having lost Wesley to the influence of the Kingpin and his willing Crafters, the trio has no choice but to flee to rebuild their revolution. Meanwhile, Wesley has never been closer to getting everything what he wanted, yet he never thought his desires would be accompanied by a string of vicious magic and a heavy conscience. What began as a quest to save Saxony’s sister, has become a desperate battle for survival, and just like in every war, sacrifice is an inevitability.
This tense wire of a novel thrums with suspense. Christo immediately catches her readers off guard by extracting a spin from the beginning, leaving her own characters shrouded in secrecy while the readers are hungrily grappling for the execution of it all. Yet, the way the implementation carried on into the later chapters was skillfully done, with enough care not to act out on shock, but on deliberate evolution. Christo acquired a great balance of action and character development, with the stakes gradually sweeping in scope. She writes thrilling combat and intimidation scenes, all rich in color and supremacy. While she mainly stirs up a generously fluid current of words that sprout from the table in fervent leaps, her evocative prose lingers on the tongue as a confection of poetic lines. Composed of mossy trees and glittering waterways, The Uncharted Forest embraces stark luminosity. Then there is the dreamscape of Creije, embezzled by color and street art, with each cobbled street forming a paintwork of trick dust. This synergic setting is painted in poignant wording, moving this tale along with considerable momentum. Though, eventually there weren’t always enough elements mentioned to properly do the visualization of the setting justice. Aligned with that, the political system could have been gifted a solid establishment and structure instead of being a lackluster element, as for example, we hardly know anything of how Doyen Schulze’s rule is experienced. Secondly, I would have enjoyed hearing more purposeful tales of the Many Gods. Only cryptic mentions were casually spread around, even though the gods laid at the groundwork of this world. Undoubtedly, the magic system bore an entertaining set-up and further enhanced the whimsical quality of the setting, but at the root of it, it rarely felt as a valid plot device. Each charm required its own mental and physical consequence, and there was a grand and intriguing variety in the aptitudes of Crafters, but other than that, the logic adhered to the magic system wasn’t always as defined as it seemed.
Though before, her only goal was to leave her criminal instincts behind, now Tavia is forced to pursue them. Usually, there is no genuine bravery to be found in her fists, but crafting up strategies aren’t strange to her, and she won’t put her own needs above what is necessary. She’s no devotee of prophecy, but she does have confidence in facts, human nature and making things happen. With no intention to remain helpless, she’ll have to stop relying on others, even when she might lose herself because of it. His city might have been thrown on the line, but Wesley’s confidence can’t know no faltering. He keeps on rustling the fight within him, but now, with all his hard work coming undone, he has no interest in feeding his own savage reputation. Using cynic humor to level out each conversation, he’s never been able to let his guard fully down. In truth, he doesn’t think he’s worth saving, but maybe finally, he can begin to be pleased by who he is and who he can be. Saxony has had enough of hiding in the shadows, and while struggling for control, her stubbornness has been fully unleashed. She longs for authority, finding her fulfillment within it, easily flocking people to her side. Yet, the pressure left on her shoulders is a burden as well, and kind company and affection are the only things that can soothe her mind. She’s rarely confident about her own abilities, but she steadfastly aims to move past tradition and her own grudges. Determined to not be destiny’s pawn anymore, she’ll begin making her dreams reality. Karam is as fierce as a bolt of lightning, but will never go into a fight without a proper plan. She doesn’t want to rely on something as otherworldly as magic, but has no trouble using her fists and quick feet. Versed in the art of battle or not, death still manages to unsettle her, which is why she chooses to be a protector. Lectures are her specialty, though she rather avoids conflict altogether. Attempting to hear out every side, she remains dedicated to her cause for balanced justice and her tethered faith, making it no toil to her to encourage others.
Due to Wesley’s absence, I feared this novel would be missing some of the charming banter that had been such a core value to its predecessor, but luckily, I was still captivated by the ratio of comical appeal. The pervasive sense of melancholy lends itself to an effective realization of emotional conflict within the characters, furthermore becoming an enticing pillar to the plot. Only negative association here was that, while it’s impossible to give examples without revealing the direction of this novel, there appeared a few uneven hops that slightly damaged the flow of this emotional severity. Christo crafted otherwise driven, thorough narrators, all displaying a certain obscurity that renders their sentiments and ambitions authentic. Although a new addition, Zekia’s narrative easily piqued my interest. She’s written as such a stark juxtaposition to the other perspectives, providing commentary to the gritty circumstances of the surrounding warfare and the opposing side’s intentions. Not to a grand avail, as while he surely had some deceitful tricks up his sleeve, Dante Ashwood remains practically the prototype of an apparent villain, with no grounded weight behind his motivations and goals. Yet, steeped with enough aptitude to entangle its readers in its ambitious web, this series mostly ends up being endearing due to its main perspectives, the indulgent budding relationships and its energetic voice. It may not have become the home for me as Creije was to our heroes, but it still wins a fair 3.5 star-rating.
the into the crooked place / city of spells duology by alexandra christo is a gritty fantasy that follows four criminals—tavia, saxony, karam, and wesley—who are forced work together to save their home after a new form of dark, illegal magic is discovered and sparks a conflict within the city’s underground. the duology was a intriguing fast paced read with a unique setting and interesting magic system and the best romance subplots. although i didn’t connect with the beginning of the first book, the world and characters really grew on me especially around toward the middle/end of book one and i really really loved the second book.
after reading and completely loving alexandra christo’s to kill a kingdom (one of my all time favourites), i was really excited to read into the crooked place and city of spells! even though i didn’t like it as much, i still really liked this duology and would recommend it. the tone and atmosphere of creije feels very different than to kill a kingdom, but this duology still retains many aspects of what i love about alexandra christo’s writing: the strong worldbuilding, beautiful prose, witty banter, found family, and romance arcs.
i also really liked the four main characters, especially tavia, and how complicated and interesting their dynamics with each other. they worked really well as a group but also in pairs, and not just the romances but the friendships as well. (also there’s a sapphic romance and it’s simply the best) tbh, i wish there was another book because i’d love to read more about the characters. also saxony’s sister was a really interesting character and i think a big strength of this book compared to to kill a kingdom is that more of the side characters felt fleshed out. oh, also, the complicated relationship between the main villain and wesley was also really intriguing.
the main thing i didn’t like about this duology mostly towards the beginning of book one i felt that it was confusing and a bit of an information overload also especially including with the rate at which side characters were introduced. it definitely improved in the second book though, and more of them got a chance to shine and become memorable. overall, i really liked this duology and it’s very good!
Big thanks to PrideBookTours and Hot Key Books for my gifted copy. 𝘊𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘴 is a follow up into 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦. I really enjoyed the second part of this duology. The action picked up at the end of 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦, and it remains intense for the whole this instalment. It felt like we got to know Wesley, Tavia, Saxony, Karam and Zavia more here, and they stories entangled even more. The stakes are even higher in 𝘊𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘴. The Kingpin’s dark magic is spreading, and the world our heroes known is about to cease to exist. New alliances are made, friendships are tested, and family is found in unexpected places. 𝘊𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘴 is a great conclusion to the series.
Alexandra Christo blows me away every time. After reading the first book so I could read this, I was very unsure about how I was feeling. I didn't LOVE the characters, the magic system was still a bit confusing, and I was having a hardtime understanding the politics. But after City of Spells, WOW. I could easily visualize all the fight scenes and all the architechture in this book, and I was yelling outloud at different characters. I had such a great time reading this book.
Thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing me with an eBook copy to review.
I definitely prefer the sequel to the first! This is a strong conclusion to the duology and satisfactory. It wasn't my favourite series or my favourite book by Alexandra Christo, but I did appreciate having the time to read it and experience this world and these characters. I felt like I had a better understanding of it in this book than the previous.
This rating is definitely more of a me thing rather than there being anything hugely wrong with this book. I just couldn't get into the plot and failed to connect emotionally to the stakes of the war. I also feel like the magic system wasn't defined clearly and too convenient a lot of the time. I really wanted to like this, especially because I enjoy Alexandra Christo's writing style and loved To Kill a Kingdom. My one bright spot was the relationship between Tavia and Karam - I just love their friendship and how much they grew to care for each other.
Overall a decent YA fantasy, which just wasn't for me personally. That's okay, it happens sometimes.
I love that there was a recap of Into the Crooked Place at the start of the book, it was so useful! All books should do the same. Loads of adventure and excitement, and some twists I really didn't see coming. The descriptions of the places and all the different types of magic were fascinating and I loved being back in this world again. The love/hate relationships between all the main characters was so much fun to read. This was a fantastic end to the duology.
I mostly feel like this had the potential to be great but it turned out just good.
There wasn't anything I particularly hated. Overall, I just feel a bit underwhelmed. This was one of my most anticipated 2021 releases, and now I feel like all those time I spent agonizing over whether or not I'd get approved (I wasn't btw) for an e-arc wasn't worth it.
What I did like the most about this duology is the dynamic among the four MCs. Even Arjun grew on me. I love the humor. And I appreciate how much Wesley, Tavia, Saxony and Karam complement each other. I do have a couple of grievances. I didn't think what happened to Asees was necessary. What was even the point? The vision Karam saw? It would've made more of an impact if it was kept secret until it needed to happen. And lastly, Zekia was given a waay too easy way out. I don't want her killed or anything like that. I just wanted her held accountable for her actions.
This was pretty straightforward. A quick-read and nothing overly complex. If you enjoy fantasy, definitely give this one a try!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I ended my review of Into the Crooked place by stating that I hoped City of Spells held my interest more and it did not disappoint!
City of Spells picks up directly after the events of Into the Crooked place, with Tavia left to run the show after Wesley was taken by the Kingpin. This book started off with a bang and dove right back into the story while still giving us plenty of background information to freshen up our minds on the events from Into the Crooked Place.
This book had a lot more to me then the first one, there’s twisty turns and revelations and more action that had me wanting to keep on turning the pages. Also Karam’s character arc was EVERYTHING, she went from someone I really didn’t love to one of my favorite characters by the end of this series and I can truly appreciate a story that can do that.
Overall, this was an epic conclusion to the Into the Crooked Place duology, full of magic and turns and a ton of growth overall. Destined for fans of Six of Crow like stories with neat, tidy endings.
Holy cow... What a finale, quite possibly one of my all-time favorites! The character development we got in this was so good! And the romance, amazing! This book, and by extension this series, has a very satisfying ending, the best I've read in a while for sure. I was so stressed about character deaths; I was fully expecting to grieve at the end of the story, but to my absolute elation, that was not necessary!! Yay for everyone living!! :D
All-in-all, this series has a thought-out story line that ties up very neatly at the end, and a well-built world that's rich and complex and a joy to read about. It's the kind of ending that gives you enough to resolve the story and satisfy the reader, but leaves enough room so that the reader can imagine further on from where the story itself ends.
Urban fantasy is new territory for me; I haven't read a lot, if any, of urban fantasy books before this series, so I'm glad I was introduced to the genre starting with these books and because of them I'm willing to try reading more.
Even though this has nothing to do with the actual contents of the books, I must say how much I love the cover art of this duology! The dynamic lines forming the titles and the images of such strange and wonderful architecture adds a whole new vibe to the story; it's just so pretty. <3
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Rating low merely due to the fact that i proably should of re read book one before jumping into book two but at any rate here are my thoughts.
A satisfying ending to the duology that is magical and timeless. We pick up the story right where we left off into the crooked place. Our evil kingpin Ashwood has discovered some new mind-altering magic that corrupts the cities and controls everyone to remove their free will. They are magic zombies. We are driven by the characters who are compelling and well developed. The magic in this city is highly controlled and supposedly rare, but since this, in the finale, a magical battle must be at the heart of the story, if your a fan of six of crows, pick this duology up today.
This one was a little better than book 1. However, I found that the multiple points of view to be a bit annoying as they often finished right before an important event, meaning I had to read other people's chapters before coming back.
There was potential here to make the book a little *more* but, unfortunately, the concept hadn't been explored. Also, the big showdown that was supposed to happen fell a little flat and I had to force myself to read each part because it was all over the place.
While I did enjoy this slightly more than Into The Crooked Place, I still feel pretty underwhelmed. I can’t pick anything I specifically hated, but i also wasn’t wowed by anything. 😅 Wesley’s POV (and sometimes Tavia’s POV) were the only interesting parts for me because, try as I might, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Karam or Saxony or their POVs 🙈
This book was so good!! It was action-packed, emotional, intense, funny and so much more. I started loving the characters and their dynamics even more and the plot also sucked me in faster then book 1. The whole story about Zekia was so complex and interesting! And the romance absolutely killed me. Wesley and Tavia own my heart. Everything was just so intense and it helped my get over a reading slump I felt coming!
4 for 3.25~3.80. It was okay. Decent. Not something that would enthrall me into rereading immediately (unfortunately, I read something giving me that feeling right before starting this series, so it's a matter of luck), but def. not as horrible as what the average rating of the first book would suggest. May elaborate, but that's it for now.