When I began reading Black City, I was struck by one thing: the world building. I notice it when authors take time to develop their setting and the atmosphere of their books, and I'm happy that Elizabeth Richards did just that. This is not a light story - it's a tale of war, and two species divided, and it's also a story about courage. Told in dual narrative from the two main characters, Black City had a lot of elements going for it that I liked, but ultimately, I failed to connect emotionally with the story being told. The characters felt underdeveloped, but I will say that I feel like Richard's debut novel has a great deal of potential for the rest of the series!
I did love the mythos of Black City. I fell in love with the idea of the Darklings, and there were times where MY heart felt like it wasn't beating, worried over Ash. Darklings are mysterious Fey-type creatures who are somewhat reminiscent of vampires, but they're definitely not a watered-down version. The Darklings have been hunted and persecuted for years, and Ash, as a twin blood - one parent is human, one a Darkling - is at a special risk. I was wildly drawn to the Darklings and their world beyond the wall they were forced to live behind...cut off from the city, from humanity. I can't wait to find out more about them and their culture, as well as one or two of the more secondary characters that are introduced in Ash's "family."
I thought Ash was the more interesting character of the two main ones, and I looked forward to his point of view more. Natalie was...well, she was alright, but to be honest, I could never get invested in her character. When Ash was in trouble, I worried. With Natalie, I was somewhat disconnected. I feel like Richards could have given Natalie more spark as a character; instead, she felt really flat to me.
Another aspect of Black City that I wasn't taken with was the love story. From the synopsis, I was expecting something epic...a star-crossed pairing that I wouldn't be able to resist. What I got was something different. There was just something MISSING for me in the Ash/Natalie coupling. They had all the conflict a couple needs to be angsty enough for my taste - everything was against them - but I couldn't connect with them. Something just wasn't there. I feel like they happened too fast and a little too conveniently, before they even really took the time to get to know one another.
Overall, Black City isn't a bad debut! It has a great deal of action and danger, as well as an extremely creepy villain called Puritan Rose, who I found myself shuddering over. You definitely get the sense that the stakes were high for Ash and Natalie, but I think what I'm most looking forward to is seeing where Elizabeth Richards takes this world and these characters in the sequel. My fingers are crossed for some character growth out of the main characters, and that Richards more deeply explores the world she's built!