Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Book Review: "City of Souls and Sinners" by Kayla Edwards

Title: City of Souls and Sinners
Author: Kayla Edwards
Series: "House of Devils" #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance 
Page Length: 776 pages
Publication Date: February 21, 2023
Rating: 5 // 5 stars 

City of Souls and Sinners was my #1 most anticipated book of this year and the sequel to my favorite book of 2021, City of Gods and Monsters. This book is set just a few weeks after the explosive finale of the first one and, predictably, I loved it. The sheer range of emotions I went through reading this book was insane and I am desperate for the next book already. Without spoiling anything, let's dive in! 

What I was most looking forward to in this sequel was being reunited with characters that I loved so much from the first book. I'm a very character-driven reader and this series has characters that I just absolutely adore with one of my favorite found family driven stories. Of course, I love our main protagonists, Loren and Darien, but I also love the whole range of side characters, from members of other Darkslaying circles to the friends and found family members getting more of a spotlight. 

Let me just say, being back with Loren and Darien was like a warm hug. The sheer joy that these two brought me was unparalleled. Of course, the entire book wasn't just puppies and rainbows and fun times. There was plenty of angst and moments of conflict that really tested their relationship. But at the heart of all of it, their love for each other was so strong and incredibly moving to me. I love them so much that it hurt sometimes. 

Like I mentioned, I love the side characters almost as much as Loren and Darien. In this book, with also got a new third POV character that I was so excited about. He was one of my favorite side characters in the first book so getting to see inside his head and inside his relationship without looking through the lens of another character was fascinating. His POV also wasn't so prominent that I felt it was taking away from my love for Loren and Darien, though. Additionally, we got to see a lot more of the other members of the House of Devils and other circles. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters we'd been introduced to before on a deeper level in this book. I can only imagine that we will continue to get to know them even better in the third book. 

I already knew that this world was complex and fascinating from the first book. This sequel, however, really expanded the world even further for me. It helped that there was a map included in this one for the city of Angelthene so I was able to visualize it a lot better than I previously had. Even then, in addition to the familiar, we were getting to explore new parts of the city while also learning about what the world (and potentially otherworld?) might look like outside of it. 

Not only was the world expanded just in a literal sense but we also got a lot about different types of magic and how it is blended with science and genetics in this world. It was fascinating but also complicated at times in a way that blew my mind. I'm often in awe of how authors can think up complex magic and world systems like these and this was no exception. One of my favorite thing about Kayla's books thus far is that she gives us the basics and builds on them without going too quickly or giving too much at a time. For example, there's plenty we could have learned in the first book if it had been info-dumped or if the characters had just gone into further detail but it would have overwhelmed me and served no purpose to the plot until now. I like that the world building is layering on top of the basics we already know because I find it a lot easier to retain that way. 

In terms of plot, it was a definite step up from the first book when it comes to tension and conflict. These characters are dealing with the fallout of what happened at the end of the first book, both in regards to their trauma around it but also how it impacted the city and their knowledge of magic. The threads that were left for this book opened up all these new paths that I'm eager to explore as the series goes on. I'll also say, this is one of the only books with miscommunication where I actually thought it was done well. Usually I hate it because it just doesn't make sense but in this context it worked well for me. 

It's hard to talk too much about this book without getting into spoilers or just devolving into a fangirl mess. But at the core of my experience with this book is that I couldn't put it down and I never wanted it to end. The first book became and instant favorite for me and this sequel has just proven to me that the first book was not a fluke and this will be a beloved series for me as it goes on. The characters are everything to me, the story and world is fascinating and complex and so brilliantly thought up, and the writing style just pulls me in and keeps me hostage. 

I loved every second, even if so much of it was angsty, and I cannot wait for the third book to come out hopefully in 2024. This series is a new all-time favorite and if you like urban fantasy, romance, intriguing magical systems, found family, the bodyguard trope, and so many more, you need to add these books to your collection. 

Thanks for reading!

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