I feel like my review is going to be somewhat repetitive since I liked all the same things that I did about the first book, except I liked this one even more.
I once again really liked the combination of the Prohibition Era, Catholicism, Feirie, and dragons (Nick is Saint George, forced to be something close to immortal and guard the Gate to Feirie after slaying the dragon that was guarding it before, as well as forced to share his body with the dragon). It’s just so interesting and meshed together in a way that works really well without feeling cluttered. And the Prohibition Era setting isn’t just an arbitrary background, the author really uses it in the story.
But what made me enjoy this one even more than the last was that the characters shined more. I feel like I got more from Nick this time, more depth, more personality, more emotion. Not all of it was good, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that he’s a good guy, but he’s got flaws, and I like that. Or maybe I just noticed more or understood him better this time for some reason. But regardless, instead of dry, I could see that he’s actually just very disenchanted and, as Fetch said, hard-boiled. And I can’t really blame him after everything he’s witnessed and experienced. He also holds grudges, pushes people away, and gets frustrated often—but that’s another thing I can hardly blame him for since he does have a lot of frustrating things to deal with, like his so-called loyal followers keeping information from him, the enigmatic queen of Feirie and her servants who constantly speak in riddles, the mysterious Michael who seems to have a hand in many things but never gives a solid answer about it, a dragon who pretty much uses every opportunity and weakness possible to try and take control of the body they share, and, well, just Fetch in general sometimes. I feel like Nick even had a bit of character growth, realizing that he’s not alone, that it’s ok to rely on his friends for help. And however hard-boiled he may be, Nick cares about people, especially those he’s close to, like Claryce and Fetch.
“Sounds like quite a blow they’re going to. . . .”
I held back a growl. “I meant about Michael.”
“He’s going to a meadow with his son. That sounds like a nice time, Master Nicholas. Could we go to a meadow sometime?”
“Are you sure you aren’t really a dog?”
Speaking of Fetch though, I can’t say he’s my favorite character, he has issues following instructions, plus there was the thing that happened in Book 1, but Nick is actually kind of harsh toward him. Nick gets frustrated when Fetch acts like a dog and does dog things, but then he forbids him from doing human things or going too close to humans and makes Fetch live on dumpster rats because he doesn’t even want him eating human food. Poor Fetch can’t win no matter what he does. And really I can’t blame him for wanting to eat good food or listen to sports on the radio or get any sort of enjoyment out life. I mean, the poor creature can’t even speak in human language to anyone unless Nick is near since he’s stuck in a kind of canine form. That’s not a complaint about the book though, just some of my thoughts.
As for Claryce, she still didn’t seem to have much depth beyond her feistiness and stubbornness, but I did once again love how she always jumped in to help when they ended up in a fight instead of cowering and letting Nick get hurt.
And the dragon was still his usual, fascinating, entertaining self. I just can’t bring myself to dislike him, even if he does continually try to take over Nick’s body. I love the dragon’s terrible commentary on things and the hidden conversations they have inside Nick’s mind.
[I] could scare the truth out of him, if you let me . . . or we could perhaps burn him a little . . . just a little, I promise . . . .
I did find the mystery and all the magic surrounding it to be kind of complicated and confusing though. I didn’t quite understand all the connections or what exactly was happening in every scene near the end. That could’ve just been a “me” issue though since I do get confused easily in books with intricate mysteries/plots/magics. And I still understood plenty to enjoy the story.
So overall, I really enjoyed this book! The characters continued to grow me, and, much like the first, this was an interesting and perfectly blended combination of Feirie, Catholicism, dragons, the Prohibition Era, mystery, and magic!
Fans of Book 1 in Richard A. Knaak's Black City Saint series. Anyone who likes urban fantasy, fae, dragons, Catholicism, the Prohibition Era, and complex relationships.