The Immortal City

By Amy Kuivalainen

The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

The Immortal City is the first book in The Magicians of Venice trilogy, by Amy Kuivalainen. I’ve never read anything by this author before, and had never heard of her. I wasn’t aware that this series was indie-published until it arrived. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read indie-pub books before – do the NZ university press ones count? I’m really not sure what makes an indie publisher vs a “traditional” publisher. Is it just size and age and whether it is has been bought up by one of the big guys? So reading something that was potentially a more “dubious” category for me did give me pause. I have read some self-pub and generally found that the lack of editing was obvious and annoying. Thankfully this is not the case here, and editors were involved. So while there were a few errors that there really shouldn’t have been, it wasn’t at a scale dissimilar to the number of errors that are usually present in most books.

The book opens in Venice with a murder of a woman who has recently given birth, with the crime scene staged as a sacrifice. At the scene are hieroglyphs that make the detective reach out to his ex, a professor, who points him in the direction of our main character, Penelope Bryne. Penelope is an Australian academic who has an interest in Atlantis and has been struggling in her career after finding the corner of a tablet that she claimed to be Atlantean in origin. The writing on the tablet piece looks a lot like what was found at the crime scene. Penelope is intrigued by this and obsessed with finding out about how the murderer knew about the language, so she jumps on a plane for Venice. After all, it could be one step closer to the secret of Atlantis.

In Venice, her involvement in the case does not go unnoticed, and soon she is in the cross hairs of the killer. At the same time, she crosses paths with the enigmatic Alexis Donato, a mysterious man who has the answers to everything she has been trying to discover throughout her career, and even earlier. For Alexis is one of the magicians referred to in the series title, and knows Atlantis and the writings very well. He also knows the origin of the killer(s). Together they try to find and stop the killer(s) and foil his/their plans. While also trying to keep Penelope alive. And yes, as you expect romance brews between Penelope and Alexis. That’s all I want to say on the plot so as to avoid spoilers, but you can read the book blurb in my March TBR post.

There were definitely shades of All Souls (Deborah Harkness) in the novel. Points I don’t want to go into here in case of introducing spoilers. But I didn’t find it problematic. There were also a few things that I questioned (e.g. why would they assume X if Y), but overall I enjoyed this novel and will continue with the series. The characters were interesting, as was the general storyline. I look forward to learning more about each of the magicians and also Atlantis, and seeing what happens next both to the characters and in general, in the next book. Yes, there are better books out there, but this was interesting and entertaining, and many books can’t say that much.

If I were still using star ratings, I’d give it 3.5. But I’m trying to stop using these in my blog as the rating means something to me, but not really anything to others – many seem to think less than 4 stars is bad, but that’s not the case for me. This is definitely a book worth trying if you’re after an easy read and enjoy books about magicians, evil sacrifices, and the good guys trying to foil the plans of the bad guys. The murder mystery side is light, as it is definitely more focused on the Fantasy side of the coin, but if you like reading about horrible ways to murder people, you won’t be disappointed.

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