Review – Jade City by Fonda Lee

This novel is described as The Godfather with magic and kungfu, which is an accurate description as far as I know.  It is set in an Asia-flavored city.  Since neither The Godfather nor Asian-flavored backgrounds really appeal to me, it doesn’t surprise me that this novel doesn’t either.
The basic story is that the families who control jade, which powers magic, also control the city.  The more jade a person wears, the more power they have.  In addition, there is a new drug, Shine, that allows magically weaker people to use more jade, with all of the advantages and disadvantages of any performance-enhancing drug.

Superficially, this novel about power, all kinds of power, what people will do to get, what they will do to keep it, and the ramifications of the above.  In reality, it is about family and loyalty, what members of a family will do to protect each other, what they will do for those who have given their loyalty, and what they will do to those who have betrayed it.

This isn’t a novel I enjoyed, but it was compelling and well-written.  If the description appeals to you, it is well worth your time.

Lee, Fonda.  Jade City.  New York: Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

This isn’t a book that I would have picked up on my own, but I’m glad that I did.

Since this is the first of a series, the second novel is due out in May. The fact that this is a fantasy world may be more obvious in later novels, but in this one, the only indication that it is a fantasy is that the areas discussed haven’t existed in human history.

The plot follows a group of people associated with the Bumble Bee Caberet in the city of Amberlough. The plot is a spy story set in an environment much like that of pre-WWII Germany. Or maybe today. Before the election that brings the radical, homophobic One State Party, the city is accepting of, and reveling in, diverse lifestyles and identies.

Once the OSP is elected, through an election many believe to have been tampered with, the main characters, and the city as a whole, must deal with the fact that the new regime will crack down on many who were believed to be good citizens before.

Although many of the characters are unlikable, at least I found them so, Donnelly makes them engaging and compelling. There are no good guys, and even the bad guys have shades to them. It’s an interesting book; I look forward to the sequel.

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly. Tor Books (Kindle Edition, February 7, 2017). Amazon