Book Review | Duology: Diamond City and Shadow City by Francesca Flores

Diamond City

Good things don’t happen to girls who come from nothing…unless they risk everything.

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten. 

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies. 

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything. 

Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of debut author Francesca Flores’ breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!

Shadow City

Aina Solís has fought her way to the top of criminal ranks in the city of Kosín by wresting control of an assassin empire owned by her old boss, Kohl. She never has to fear losing her home and returning to life on the streets again—except Kohl, the man who tried to ruin her life, will do anything to get his empire back. Aina sets out to kill him before he can kill her.

But Alsane Bautix, the old army general who was banned from his seat in the government after Aina revealed his corruption, is working to take back power by destroying anyone who stands in his way. With a new civil war on the horizon and all their lives at risk, the only way for Aina to protect her home is to join up with the only other criminal more notorious than her: Kohl himself.

As Bautix’s attacks increase, Aina and Kohl work together to stop his incoming weapons shipments and his plans to take back the Tower of Steel. To defeat them both, Aina will resort to betrayal, poison, and a deadly type of magic that hasn’t been used in years.

Through narrow alleys, across train rooftops, and deep in the city’s tunnels, Aina and Kohl will test each other’s strengths and limits, each of them knowing that once Bautix is dead, they’ll still have to face each other. If she manages to kill him, she’ll finally have the freedom she wants—but it might forever mark her as his shadow in a city where only the strongest survive.

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Goodreads’ Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Diamond City is a dark fantasy tale that shocked and surprised me with its many twists, turns, and revelations.

What I Loved

I loved the unexpected mystery plotline that delighted me with shocking reveals, loads of suspense, and many twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.  There are a few mysteries in the story that are masterfully interconnected and tightly woven into the plot.  I wasn’t expecting this in an epic fantasy story, and I think it made the revelations even more shocking.

I loved the world.  It is dark, reminding me of Panem with a similar dichotomy between rich people and poor people.  There doesn’t seem to be a middle class; instead, the world consists of Steels and the people who lived in Kosin’s slums.  The Steels have indoor plumbing, electricity, and all that makes a living more comfortable. In contrast, people in the slums consisted of magic wielders, killers for hire, and people trying to survive. Gangs and drugs are prevalent, and death was expected.

I loved the resilience of the characters we meet as the story progresses – Aina (the main character and hero of the story), Teo, Ruyuu, Raurie are all survivors whose death of their parents impacted their lives in ways that are most profound and is a bonding point from which they relate to one another. There are so many orphaned children that there isn’t enough room in orphanages to care for them.

To Read Or Not to Read

This is a fantasy novel that will surprise you with its depth, intrigue you with it’s creative world-building, and make you happy that you took the time to pick it up and read it.

Goodreads’ Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Diamond City and Shadow City are an intense, action-packed fantasy duology that enthralled me and horrified me as I rooted for the characters to be clear of the shadows so that they can truly live.

What I Loved

I loved the intensity that kept me captivated with the story through every page. A civil war is in the works, and the tone and pace reflect such a tragic event. This intensity could be rough in large doses, but it feels utterly genuine to the story.

I also loved the motif of shadows used to enhance the theme of repression and subjugation. This is a society that lives in the shadows and is in dire need to have light thrown on their plight – the light of truth, the light of personal empowerment, and the light of safety, love, and life. The shadows have created a land of chaos where criminal activity means survival. Still, it is also subject to power-hungry megalomaniacs who get to their positions by walking on the backs of those they keep in the shadows. It’s a tragic world, one that can improve if anyone who takes an interest in it will rule.

Aina Solis, the main character, is the epitome of a survivor. She is never happy with the status quo seeking to push beyond the boundaries and make her own life better and everybody around her. She is smart, deadly, and has a clear moral compass, even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface.
Aina’s supporting characters are a collection of equally intriguing backstories and connections. All characters display intricate layers and toughness of spirit in a world that seeks to destroy it. I loved everyone, even the bad guys, because they feel as real as the person sitting next to me.

The world-building is exquisite and engaging with the detail that makes me easily able to imagine it. I loved the hidden tunnels and system of hideaways throughout the city. I also love the magic system and wish it had been developed even more. It is very intricate magic with two sides – destruction and healing – and I wanted to know more about it and how much could be done with it.

To Read or Not to Read

Diamond City / Shadow City is a fantasy duology that will impact how you look at many things in your own society. It is a must-read for 2021.

4 Replies to “Book Review | Duology: Diamond City and Shadow City by Francesca Flores”

  1. Love this book review! Do you prefer trilogies? Duologies? Or standalones?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t really have a preference though I feel like I rarely see standalones, especially in fantasy. I will say though, I’m not a big fan of the cliffhanger ending. So if there is more than one, I like each to have its own soft conclusion leading to the big finale.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.