Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Skyscraper Throne #3: Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock

I cover the concluding act in the young adult urban fantasy trilogy The Skyscraper Throne, entitled Our Lady of the Streets, published by Jo Fletcher Books. For details about why I've started covering book reviews on this blog, hit the break for more information.

IMPORTANT: This is a review copy from Jo Fletcher Books and would normally go live on The Founding Fields. However, seeing as the backend of TFF  is currently down, all book reviews will be posted on The Fictional Hangout for the foreseeable future. When the problem with TFF is eventually fixed, they will be reposted on The Founding Fields. Apologies for any inconveniences.

Four months ago, Mater Viae, the Goddess of London, returned from London-Under- Glass to reclaim her throne. And ever since then, London has been dying.

Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating anyone and anything touching them. Towers crash to the ground, their foundations decayed.

As the streets sicken, so does Beth, drawn ever deeper into the heart of the city, while Pen fights desperately for a way to save her. But when they discover that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond London’s borders, they must make a choice: Beth has it within her to unleash the city’s oldest and greatest powers – powers that could challenge the vengeful goddess, or destroy the city itself.

I’ve been writing a lot of positive reviews for books lately, be they Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea or The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey, and it looks like Our Lady of the Streets is going to be another addition to that line of awesome books that I’ve been reading. It’s the final act in what has been a fantastic young adult trilogy, with The Skyscraper Throne really being a must read for anyone who loves reading the fiction that this genre has given us in the past. It certainly stands up with my favourite YA books, and provides a wonderful closing act that fans will certainly enjoy.

Whilst the last book was focused mainly on Pen, Our Lady of the Streets puts Beth Bradley back in the spotlight and it shows just how much she’s developed as a character over the course of the book. She needs to take lead and stop a London under siege, as Master Viae has returned to the Capital. In order to emerge victorious she has to discover more about her transformation and whether she’s gained any new powers from it or not. In weaker hands, this would simply make Beth boring by putting her in what could easily have fallen into the trap of being yet another ‘Chosen One’ type story, but Pollock is confident enough to keep things original and in the right place, given Beth both strengths and weaknesses as a character, and keeps the book feeling fresh. At her core though, she’s still the Beth Bradley that readers are familiar with, and there are as ever some good lines that she delivers over the course of the book.

However, that doesn’t mean to say the book is all about Beth. We get to learn more about Pen as well, who has also gone from strength to strength as a character. Both Beth and Pen are fantastic leads, and her role in this book is fleshed out enough to prevent Beth from overshadowing her character. Pollock handles both girls well, and draw their storylines to satisfying conclusions.

Our Lady of the Streets expands on the worlds that both Pen and Beth have discovered. Pen’s London-Under-Glass and Beth’s world that she discovered are merged so well that you won’t even notice the difference, as Pollock manages to continue to flesh out what has been one of the most unique takes on Urban Fantasy set in London that I’ve seen. The only title that I’ve read that comes close to this sort of originality in this type of setting is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and as that is my favourite novel, that’s certainly saying something.

The pacing is pulled off pretty well. There aren’t any moments that feel out of place and the narrative switch between Beth and Pen is handled well. Both are given plenty of page time so their stories can come to a conclusion and as a result, this trilogy is fantastic to read indeed. The quality remains so consistent that it’s hard to pick a standout book in the entire trilogy, with each title going from strength to strength.

With Our Lady of the Streets, Tom Pollock concludes what has been a superb trilogy. All three novels have shined and this one deals with the final act very well. Fans should really enjoy this book and I’ll be eagerly looking forward to seeing what Pollock can come up with next, if this is anything to go by then he’s certainly earned the status of a must read author in my book, and he should be one in your eyes too.

VERDICT: 9.5/10

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