View from the window seat:
I’ll preface this by saying I love Catherine Fisher’s novels. I started with Darkhenge years and years ago, then read The Snow-Walker, the Oracle trilogy, and the Incarceron series (please don’t ruin the movie, Hollywood). She has a way of creating these dark and compelling worlds and The Dark City, the first in the Relic Master series, is no different. The dark city of the title is, well, dark. Creatures lurk in the shadows and anyone could be watching, including the Watch who hunts the Order of Relic Masters to which Galen and his apprentice Raffi belong. This city enthralled me, the same way the living prison Incarceron did. Mysteries lurk just underneath the surface and the constant fear of danger was palpable. My favorite characters are Carys, a girl who must question everything she was taught with the Watch, and the Sekoi, a member of a mysterious furred race. The combination of fantasy and technology was one of my favorite parts of the book. Fisher includes snippets of sayings from literature from the worlds in the beginnings of chapters (I know she did this with Incarceron and The Dark City, but I can’t remember if she did it with the other books I read too), which illuminate both the world’s mythology and stories while shedding light on what follows for our characters. I love these little glimpses into the history of Anara; it’s a much better way of world-building than the dreaded info dump.
I enjoyed this first book and will read the rest of the series. However, I kept drawing parallels between The Dark City and Incarceron, so in many ways the story felt familiar.