City of Stars (Stravaganza, Book 2) - Mary Hoffman

I did enjoy "City of masks" a lot, and was very curious to see how the whole political plot would have evolved, so as soon as I had finished it I ordered a copy of this, and when it arrived I started reading it immediately.

 

I really liked this book, even more than the first one. The world building gets even more interesting and tight, and the plot gets much more complex, albeit in the subdued manner the first book carried out its plot. It's interesting to see more of the machinations and the way the Chimici clan works from the "inside" point of view of some of its members, and that alone is more than worth the price of admission. The descriptions of this book's version of Siena and its Palio are very well done, and paint an interesting and lively city, and I hope that one of the next books will take place in Remora again.

 

The main character of this story, Georgia, is quite interesting, and her personal backstory of bullying at the hands of her step-brother Russell is, in my opinion, very well and realistically done. I've personally gone through it during my adolescence, and seeing it described in such a manner was a bit upsetting at moment, but also refreshing in how realistically it was depicted: in the story, like it often happens in real life, bullying happens and goes on because of the neglect or lack of reaction from parents or other similar figures of authority. Russell's dialogue and actions and the reason why their parents don't trust Georgia's words or try to jump in are written realistically, which might make them feel banal to some readers, but that's how this kind of dynamic works most of the time, sadly. Kudos to the author for having decided to go with this kind of description, instead of using a more 'interesting' way of describing this situation.

 

The book was a page turner up until the very end, with a great prose (I found it vastly improved over the previous one) and a very interesting story keeping me glued to the book until the epilogue, where the cliffhanger scene that sets up the next book felt a bit forced just for the sake of creating that drama - and yes, it's believable that the characters themselves would act like that, but still. And in general, compared to the first book the author played a bit more safe with the character and what happens to them in the end, despite having one of the characters make a surprising and very risky choice. But given what happens in "City of masks" and how this is basically the middle act of the story, I can see why she would take a breather and make things a bit less dramatic.

 

Really liked this book, I expected to enjoy it and it blew me away.