ARC Review: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

20174424Release Date: September 9th 2014

Publisher: Broadway Books

Genre: Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Format: Paperback

Source: Publisher 

My Rating: 4 Stars

A densely atmospheric and intrigue-filled fantasy novel of living spies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, ever-changing city-from one of America’s most acclaimed young SF writers.

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.


This is one of the best epic fantasies that I have read this year. There is so much happening in this book that you won’t want to put it down!

It starts off with the murder of a historian who is on assignment to study the city of Bulikov’s history. Shara, super spy extraordinaire, comes in to investigate the murder and she just happens to be a friend of the victim. But this goes way beyond just solving a murder. There are many aspirations that make up this story as a whole. Magic, dead Gods, politics, religion….you name it, this book has it. While Shara has an important role in this story, with her secrets that are all too phenomenal, Sigrud- her fellow traveler, has an even bigger role it seems. I found his character to be that of a gentle giant in the beginning, but soon found out otherwise by the end.

The world building in this book is incredible. The author paints a picture of the settings that capture the reader. One would say that the descriptions are somewhat long, but when you get to certain points in the story, you don’t have to question what is really happening. I found the way that this book is written to be exceptionally well thought out. This is my first book by this author, and I am keen to read his other works because I really love the way he writes and characterizes. If you are a fan of the many genres that this book brings forth- fantasy, magic, philosophy, thriller, mystery, urban fantasy- then I highly recommend reading this. You will not be disappointed in the slightest.