Book Review: THE CITY OF DUSK by Tara Sim

Title in white on black circle surrounded by gold detailing
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - first book


Book cover for THE CITY OF DUSK: title in silver on roundel of a city surrounded by black and gold decorative pattern

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favour from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Once I got into it, THE CITY OF DUSK was a fun read, but it did take an awfully long time to get into.

I think the reason it took so long to get into was just the scale of the book meant that the opening was full of disparate parts that I struggled to connect up. It felt like trying to keep too many separate stories straight (not to mention the sheer number of characters and places) in my mind, while not quite seeing how they came together.

There are a lot of POV characters in this book – I think I counted seven in all. Some are more important than others. For example, there’s like five short chapters from “the mysterious villain.” There’s also a character who starts narrating in section two, and one character who felt introduced as big at the start, then dropped out for almost the entire book. Not to mention all the others drop in and out continuously.

This large, dropping-in-and-out cast did make it pretty hard to get a grip on them all, as it was so much information to be bombarded with, and then sporadic disappearances meant they weren’t present so slipped from mind. Once they returned, I had to shift back through lots of other stuff to recall who they were and what their goals were.

Once I reached about the halfway point, I felt like I’d finally wrangled my way to an understanding of the characters. From there, I did enjoy the book, all the twists and turns and double crossings made for a lot of fun moments (and building stakes.) The plot can best be described as “things aren’t great, here’s an idea to fix it – oops, that isn’t going to work but we don’t seem to have any even semi-decent options and none of us really trust each other either.”

Also these are characters who I really would say are “morally grey” (and many are on the very dark grey end of that scale.) PLUS it’s also a “dark fantasy” that truly feels like it lives up to that, rather than just being an aesthetic. I am so picky about those two designator, because it feels like most books that are called that are in it just for an “aesthetic”, rather than having main characters who actually do highly questionable things with very flexible morals. But THE CITY OF DUSK doesn’t feel like it’s pulling back from those items, and is certainly more than just “aesthetically dark.”

The ending is nicely epic – big, multi-component battle with some interesting character endings, leaving some in very perilous situations that should be fun to see develop in the next book.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: THE CITY OF DUSK by Tara Sim

  1. Great review! I ended up enjoying the book, too, but you’re right it struggles to get its footing for quite a while. I do wish Sim had taken slightly more time to build up the world, but as it’s a first novel maybe we’ll get more of that in the second book?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s