Review No.92 – City of Dark Magic

City of Dark Magic – Magnus Flyte

Penguin Books, 2012

Passionate music student Sarah Weston has studied the work and history of Beethoven for most of her adult life. When she is given the opportunity to catalogue his original manuscripts for a private museum in Prague, it is the fulfilment of a dream, but she has another reason to accept. The museum is where her beloved mentor recently died. Sarah refuses to believe the official verdict of suicide and is determined to investigate. There she meets an assortment of oddball academics, their volatile royal patron and his eccentric right hand man – any of whom could be a murderer. But suspicious death is only the beginning of the mysteries inhabiting Prague Castle…

A promising title and quirky blurb drew me to this book, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The writing was occasionally clunky, while the plot required a considerable amount of credulity, with a multitude of coincidences and several plot twists left only partially explained. It was a bit like a sexed up version of Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow, having the same fantastical approach to history and a very American focus despite most of the action taking place in Prague. Sarah was a reasonably interesting protagonist and the underpinning concepts of the book were clever, but it didn’t pull together for me.

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