Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Shattered City

Creature Court Book Two

a review by Nalini Haynes

Velody, dressmaker and Power and Majesty of the Creature Court (Fae), creates a beautiful dress for Isangell, Ducomtessa of Aufleur (ruler of the city/state in which the story is set). In Power and Majesty (book one) Velody began having problems with shadows on her skin and in her vision; these problems have continued. Ashiol, the other King of the Creature Court and Isangell’s cousin, struggles to retain a shred of his sanity. Rhian, Velody’s friend, hides a secret for which she believes she cannot be forgiven. Delphine struggles between taking on responsibility and throwing herself back into her hedonistic lifestyle. The Creature Court’s politics shift and change as with the tides. The sky attacks and takes on new forms, taking the Creature Court by surprise.

The Shattered City is the second book in the trilogy, but is so consistent with the first (award winning) book the two could have been published as one (very large) volume. It isn’t until the end of The Shattered City that a hinge creates a distinct turning point for the third volume. This is a strength of this trilogy; too often book one or two in a trilogy is slow, or the shifts in the story feel artificially constructed to fit the three book format. Not so with The Creature Court, where the story is consistently developing the characters and plot as it ramps up the action to the final act.

Sex scenes are explicit at times. While some authors seem to forcibly inject a sex scene into the storyline to comply with the paranormal romance format, Roberts explores attitudes towards sex as a theme without making sex scenes feel like an interruption to the story. The Creature Court has non-conventional attitudes towards sex, which are explored and contrasted with the attitudes of ‘daylight folk’ (non-fae). The sex scenes can be somewhat explicit but are neither as detailed nor as lengthy as those in Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance novels.

Costumes are described in detail at times, giving a feel for the characters and setting. While some authors bore me with their seemingly obsessive focus on clothing, Roberts avoids this by focusing on detail that is pertinent to the story. If the costume is not important, the description is brief, allowing the reader to fill in the details.

Readers must start with Power and Majesty, the first book in the Creature Court trilogy, in order to make sense of the story. Power and Majesty won awards; The Shattered City has followed on in the same vein. These novels are for those who love fantasy, Fae and other-worldliness combined with vicious politics and epic magical battles.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011.  This blog has been pre-dated to reflect the date of original publication.