Review: City of Stairs

City of Stairs UK City of Stairs USBy Robert Jackson Bennett

Jo Fletcher Books (UK) October 2, Broadway Books (US) 9 September

Investigating the past can be very dangerous – particularly when your own won’t necessarily stand up to scrutiny…

Once again, Robert Jackson Bennett takes the reader to unexpected places, with a meld of espionage, political intrigue and fantasy which examines deep questions of faith and belief in a fast-moving gripping story. We’re in a world where the rules – of all descriptions – can change so even those who think they know what they’re doing can discover the hard way that they don’t.

Shara Thivani and her assistant Sigurd are some of the strongest characters that Bennett has created to date; by the end of the book, you feel as if you’ve been in their company for far longer than just this story. Shara’s relationships with those around her drive the book forward, alongside some riveting action sequences that are so vividly described that you’ll believe you’ve seen them.

It’s a world where the gods have gone, but their influence is still felt, a world where the past can – and will – come back to bite you in the nether regions. Bennett uses this secondary world to pose questions about ours, and the place of faith and belief in our lives – and takes you on a rollercoaster ride as he does so. He’s said that he hopes that his readers learn something definite about the world from his books; he’s succeeded in his aim.

Verdict: A murder mystery, spy thriller, fantasy adventure and philosophical treatise rolled into one. Highly recommended. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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