Book Review: Black City Saint (Black City Saint Book 1) by Richard A. Knaak

Ever since slaying the Dragon, Saint George, now known as Nick Medea, has been tasked with the duty of protecting the Gate to Feirie, along with the Dragon that now shares his body. Nick thought they handled the worst of their problems 50 years ago when they burned Oberon in the Great Fire to stop him from combining the mortal and Feirie worlds, but when strange things start happening, Nick realizes Chicago might have a far bigger problem brewing than bootleggers and gangsters.

Book Review: Black City Saint (Black City Saint Book 1) by Richard A. Knaak | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, paranormal/urban fantasy, historical fantasy, faeries/fae, dragons, prohibition era
Title: Black City Saint
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 390
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Goodreads


This was a book I had been wanting to read for a while because I love sci-fi/fantasy that’s set in the Prohibition Era, so I was pleasantly surprised when I realized my library had a copy! And I’m going to keep this review nice and simple by using some lists.

Things I Liked:

– I liked the Feirie and Catholicism aspects, both separately and the way they combined (although I admit I’m not very knowledgeable about Catholicism, so don’t worry, you don’t need to know about it in order to enjoy the book). The main character, Nick, is actually Saint George, and when he slayed the dragon, he didn’t realize the dragon was guarding the Gate to Feirie. Now the dragon is a part of him, sharing a body, and they are both charged with guarding the Gate. So while this book absolutely was not preachy in any way, there were Catholic references sprinkled throughout, as well as plenty of fae stuff.

– Nick’s relationship with the dragon was super interesting. They basically hated each other, and the dragon was always trying to find a way to take control of the body and be the dominant one, but they were stuck together whether they liked it or not, and they also relied on each other and were allies in some ways… so it was a very complex, tenuous relationship. (P.S. There is a reason the dragon refers to himself as ‘Eye’ that gets explained a little ways into the book, so don’t worry about that if it seems weird when you start reading.)

– Speaking of the dragon, I think he was my favorite character. I don’t know, I found him really fascinating! And to be quite honest, I can’t say I blame him for wanting freedom and for being angry about his forced servitude. He was forced to guard the Gate for who knows how long, then he was killed by Nick and is now forced to be trapped inside a body he can’t even control. I’d be angry too.

– I found some of the side characters interesting as well, like Diocles, Fetch, and Kravayik. And the relationship Nick had with Diocles was also a complex one. On the one hand, it seemed harsh the way Nick treated him. On the other hand, I could understand why he still couldn’t forgive him (Diocletian was the emperor who had Saint George executed).

– While I didn’t like everything about Claryce, I did like how she handled herself in fight situations. She didn’t stand around like a damsel in distress—she jumped right in to shoot someone or stab someone or do something in order to help Nick, oftentimes giving him the opening he needed and making all the difference in how the fight ended.

– I loved the Prohibition Era setting! I’ve just always found that time period interesting. And I liked that the book was actually set in Chicago and included gangsters. Like, it really used the setting rather than making it just a random backdrop.

Things I Disliked:

– Maybe it made sense to the author, but the magic seemed pretty random and deus ex machina to me. Nick would get into a sticky situation, and then some weird, new magic would show up (whether it was something he, his sword/dagger, or another character did) and fix the problem. Or vice versa.

– I didn’t feel super connected to the main characters. I got more invested as the story went on, but I guess it took me a bit to kind of get used to the dryness of Nick’s POV. I liked him and was rooting for him, but the way he was written didn’t make me feel that much emotion or depth from him. I feel like he has emotion and depth, you just have to look some to find it. As for Claryce, she never seemed quite realistic. She jumped into things too quickly, immediately insisting on being a part of everything Nick was doing, always insisting on going with him even when it was dangerous, etc. But the real problem with her was that she didn’t really have much character development other than being feisty and headstrong.

So overall, I definitely liked more than I disliked about this book (requested the next book from my library already and am crossing my fingers they’ll get it because I want to continue!), and I thought the Feirie aspects, the Catholicism aspects, the Prohibition Era setting, and the complex relationships made for an interesting and unique read!


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  1. Karen Blue

    This story sounds really interesting. I dislike when magic shows up for convenience sake so I will probably skip this. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion about it.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It was super interesting! I don’t like deus ex machina magic either, but I was able to kinda overlook it in this book since I liked the rest. I understand every book isn’t for every person though!

  2. Kazza

    That is one random mix of time and characters… and a religion – prohibition, a dragon, fae and Catholicism . I’d say I’m intrigued but I’m unsure. I’m a character fanatic like you so I wonder if I’ll gel with them. However, it does sound like a diversion from the usual when I am in that kind of reading mood. I can always count on you to read things a little different to others, Kristen πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah you know I’m a character fanatic, but every so often I find a book in which maybe I don’t connect a whole lot to the characters, but they’re still interesting enough and the rest of the book is good enough that I still really enjoy the book anyway! And I know you like books that incorporate Catholicism. (I think? Maybe you just said religion.) That’s me, the person who reads the books no one else in the blogging community is reading, haha πŸ˜›

      1. Kazza

        Yes, characters are just so important but sometimes they can be godawful and the book is still good because of the plot/arcs, the overall writing, that something that makes you want to keep reading,

        I do like different religious themes. a lot, and I’m not religious πŸ™‚

        I read and like – love a number of books that other readers don’t seem to embrace or enjoy. I hear you.

        1. Kristen Burns

          These characters weren’t awful, I found Nick interesting enough, but I do get what you’re saying. I read a series a few years back (still waiting oh the last book) and hated the MC—like, didn’t even care that she got kidnapped in one book—but I loved the series and was so totally gripped by it because the writing and the rest of the characters were so damn good.

          I have been finding Catholicism in books more and more interesting lately to the point that I kind of want to maybe learn more about it in general.

          Yeah, I mean, I’d much rather read the books I’m actually interested in, so I’m happy with the books I’m reading, but it does suck not being able to talk about them with everyone the way people can do with the popular books.

  3. Greg

    Prohibition and faerie seems like a pretty good combo. And of course I’m a sucker for gates and guarding them and all that jazz. πŸ™‚ The mix of Chicago/ gangsters with Catholicism and the faerie elements- I can see why this would be fun!

  4. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    This sounds pretty cool and although you had issues (characterisation and a magic system that hasn’t been thought out enough so it seems it’s just there to sort situations out) it sounds you mostly liked it. I like the idea of two people being in one body and what a cool twist to the whole slaying the dragon thing, actually, turns out you were wrong. It sounds like a cool book really, also prohibition era, who doesn’t love that setting?

    1. Kristen Burns

      I did mostly like it, and I got more into it as the book went on. The dragon sharing the body was really interesting! And yeah, how much would that suck, trying to do something good by slaying a dragon and ending up with this. It makes such a great setting, right?!

  5. Maureen Bakker

    I haven’t read this book. And I must admit I haven’t been loving reading Fantasy novels as much lately. But this one sounds good. And dragons.. Well I loooooooove dragons! πŸ˜€
    Great review!

  6. Jessica

    That sounds like a good book, but Overdrive doesn’t. And I can’t recommend because I used up my recommend times. The martial arts fantasy book series I had been reading (that I will one day get back to) by Kylie Chan has gods and magic in them. I love the books. I originally thought Chris, my fiance would like them because he is into martial arts.But when I told him about them, he said they sound too girly.

  7. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    I think I need to read this just to find out more about the dragon. Don’t you love it when you find books at your library that you never expected them to have? Such a fun perk. Great review and I enjoyed reading it. “Eye” huh? Can’t Wait!

  8. Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers.

    YAY FOR DRAGONS! But a somewhat lazy magic system bothers me! Both while reading and writing I like to see my magic system fully fleshed out and with boundaries rather than just random happenings! Great review Kristen πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol dragons are awesome. Lazy magic systems bother me too, but I still liked this book regardless of that since there was a lot of good stuff too. Thanks!

  9. Olivia Roach

    I love the cover to this book! And it’s pretty cool that it combines such opposite subjects… I wonder how they manage to do that well? Although I know nothing about Catholicism so I wouldn’t be able to judge that properly xD

    1. Kristen Burns

      Tbh, I’m not crazy about the cover of this, but I like the cover of the second one more lol. But yeah, it combines a lot of seemingly unrelated things, which could go very wrong, but it worked really well here!

  10. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    books that have Judeo-christian mythology {angels, demons, saints, etc] are a hit or miss for me. I think it’s very hard to give these tales and characters a twist and make them feel fresh. So I usually go from DNF or 1-star to 5-star reviews [Like Angelfall]. I have NEVER read one with a saint though! Only angels, so that’s unique! Dragons.. hum… right there in the “only in movies or TV shows like GoT” sack. Don’t really like them in my books πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well, this was not a good/angels vs. evil/demons type of stories, so I thought it was pretty different with a unique twist on the mythology! But really? You don’t like dragons? WHY DON’T I KNOW YOU ANYMORE?

      1. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

        hahah we are about to have our “you never pay attention to me” fight! I NEVER liked dragons or Zombies in my books! I have mentioned it only maybe a million times??? but, like my last haircut! you never pay attention to me LOL! xoxo