Author: Magnus Flyte
No. of Pages: 464
”Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.Thoughts: To force Magnus Flyte’s City of Dark Magic into one particular genre is near impossible. This crazy novel is part paranormal, part thriller, part romance, part comedy, part mystery, and part historical fiction. Each part though adds its own unique element to a fun ride through the city of Prague and through history.
Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.”
As with any novel this eclectic, one must suspend some modicum of belief, sit back and enjoy the ride. In other words, it does not hold up well under close scrutiny. Time-warping toenails? 400-year-old dwarfs? Double agents not sharing state secrets but historical booty? A conspiracy regarding Czech history that goes all the way to the White House? Each is highly unlikable – or impossible – and yet, taken on the surface, these elements, which may cause raised eyebrows and consternation over their improbability, create a highly entertaining novel that is easily read and thoroughly enjoyable.
Sarah Watson is simply hilarious in her act-now, think-later philosophy. From the moment she lands at Prague Castle and has an unexpected rendezvous with an unknown lover in the employee bathroom, one knows Sarah is not quite like other female characters. Her obsession with sex, while healthy, is almost masculine in its intensity, yet she remains surprisingly feminine and vulnerable. She truly cares about her chosen profession and about her friends, which softens her crassness and extreme skill at having relations in highly inappropriate locations.
City of Dark Magic is every bit as quirky as it sounds and as enjoyable as one might imagine with such an diverse cast. Sarah Weston is a thoroughly modern woman, with a man’s libido and unwillingness to play the damsel in distress. Max, as American-born member of royalty, is suitably conflicted and mysterious in his new role as head of the family. The secrets that abound are deliciously cryptic, and the search for answers keeps a reader’s interest. While City of Dark Magic is a stand-alone novel, there are enough goodies and unanswered questions to pique a reader’s interest in the possibility of a sequel or series. Besides, with characters this fun, it is difficult to say good-bye!
Acknowledgments: Thank you to NetGalley and to Penguin Group for my review copy!