Monday, 28 July 2014

Our Lady of the Streets

Our Lady of the Streets is the concluding part of the Skyscraper Throne trilogy and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

It’s been four months since Mater Viae passed through from London-Under-Glass and claimed her throne. In those four months, the city has sickened and its occupants divided. London is on the brink of a civil war like no other.

If you’ve not experienced Tom Pollock’s London yet, go and get yourself a copy of The City’s Son right this minute. The third book does not disappoint at all and I can’t remember the last time a trilogy has delivered so well in every single book.

From the opening pages, the streets are closing in, literally as windows and doors are disappearing, leaving nothing but brickwork and the fading screams of those trapped inside. The outlook seems bleak for both the city and Beth, who now must feed off sickly streets. Loyalties are divided and refugees are camping out in Selfridges, one of the last safe havens from a city that is slowly consuming itself.

Tom’s characters don’t come out of their adventures unscathed. It’s not just their inner selves that are transformed, but when bad things happen in this world, they also have physical impact. Pen still holds her scars from the Wire Mistress (who you can expect to see more from in this book) and has another chance to address her internal scars. Beth’s transformation is more fantastical, but comes with many new challenges.

And there’s loss. Not just of the city they call home, the streets lost to a malignance, but also to those they hold dear. Beth visits the baby Pavement Priest that is all that is physically left of Fil and she carries his stolen memories in a flask. Pen learns how her parents, who no longer remember her, think they are going insane. This is a world of tough decisions, unknowns and living with the consequences.

There’s a nod to some of the creatures from the past, some who side with them and others that see the Mirror Mater as their true Goddess. Alliances are shifting, and not always in the direction that you expect. It feels a much more familiar world by now, less of a learning curve getting to know Tom’s stunning world-building.

The ending is dramatic and emotional. I was so thrown by one bit with the cats, where I was thinking aww, isn’t that lovely, only for the scene to pan out and be something else. It really manages to play with your heartstrings if you’ve come to love this world and the characters.

I’m not sure I was ready for it to end. Pitched as a trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets does feel like a conclusion but this world is so multi-layered and creative, it’s going to be hard to let go. Despite the hardships, I was left with a feeling of hope; that something will live on beyond the pages. Beth and Pen, the Railwraiths, London-Under-Glass, the Pavement Priests and Gutterglass are so real to me that they can’t stop existing, in the corners of our imaginations and in the bricks of London Town…

Our Lady of the Streets is published by Jo Fletcher Books and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 7th August 2014. Thanks go to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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