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4.2 out of 5 stars
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When Beth Bradley takes artistic revenge on the teacher making life hell for her best friend Pen Khan, the last thing she expects is for Pen to grass her up. Expelled from school and with her father grief-consumed by her mother's death, she turns to the streets where she meets Filius Viae who shows her a world filled with rail wraiths, Sodiumites, pylon spiders and pavement priests.

But Filius's world is a dangerous one. Reach, the god of demolition, wants Filius dead and has been extending his control of London since Filius's mother, the Lady of the Streets, disappeared years earlier. To stop him, Filius must raise an army and he needs Beth to help him. But Pen needs Beth too. And when she goes to make things right with her friend, Beth finds both her worlds coming apart ...

Tom Pollock's debut YA novel, the first in a trilogy is a stunningly creative tale filled with wonderful imagery and fascinating characters.

Filius has a strong, original first person voice and the linguistic flourishes to his speech helped to ground him. I liked how his cockiness hides the insecurity caused by his mother's abandonment and how grows into his own skin. I actually wanted more of his point of view because he is so interesting.

Beth's character arc is well handled and I liked how her mix of pragmatism and fierce loyalty. Her friendship with Pen is strongly depicted and while I'd have liked to see more of her relationship with her dad, there's enough there to give a good sense of it.

The imagination in this book is astounding. Pollock takes the familiar elements of London and makes them magical such that you can't walk around the city and not see it as Filius does.

It's a fast paced read, perhaps a little too fast-paced towards the end as I needed time to breathe and reflect (but this is a petty gripe). If I've got any criticism it's that I didn't quite buy Pen's backstory, which is a shame because she's a fascinating character and it's great to see a Muslim character who isn't defined by her faith and whose journey is emotionally painful.

This is one of the best YA fantasies I've read in years and one of the best debuts I've read in 2012. I'd definitely recommend checking it out.
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on 2 August 2012
Caroline for [...]
Copy received from Netgalley in exchange for in honest review

Despite it's familiar UK location, reading The City's Son, felt like tumbling down a rabbit hole, in to an unexpected and magical world filled with fantastical creatures. The irony is that this isn't a separate, or secret world. This is our London.

Shunning the usual attractions, Pollock takes us on a sightseeing tour of the grubbier, graffiti strewn, and unsavory parts of our capital city. The parts that won't be being showcased by the British tourist board this summer. Unhidden but unvalued, Filius' kingdom is ignored or explained away.

For me there is nothing better than when an author really captures the atmosphere of a location, suspending my disbelief and transporting me in to the mist of the story. There were times when I was so absorbed in Pollock's world building that my stomach lurched from his descriptions and I felt the desire to take a shower.

Despite the, at times, repulsive nature of Filius' London I couldn't help but share the characters affection for the city, not in spite of but, because of its untamed and scruffy nature.

When I say that Pollock brought London to life, I don't just mean metaphorically. Pollock takes the mundane fabric of the city and doesn't just craft a believable, if not uncomfortable environment, but the very creatures cohabiting London with us. I certainly won't look at a flickering street lamp or a coil of barbed wire in the same way!

The City's Son is told predominately from the first person perspectives of Filius the street urchin, prince and the 3rd person point of views of Beth a teenage graffiti artist and Pen her poet friend. Rather than causing confusion, I found that the multiple perspectives actually enriching to the story. Pollock reserved the first person perspective for Filius, allowing me in to the mind of the street prince and enabling me to accept this unusual character and his associates without question.

I was really impressed with Pollock's development of strong female characters and the emphasis on forms of strength other than the physical; emotional strength, independence, courage and resilience.

I really enjoyed the exploration of friendship and relationships portrayed within the book. The developing relationship between the main characters felt natural and unrushed and while it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling in the mist of all the fast paced action, it certainly wouldn't put off readers who don't enjoy that aspect as much as I do.

I didn't consider myself particularly fearful before I started reading The City's Son, but Pollock's descriptive narrative, hitched my breathing and spiked my pulse rate as I found myself simultaneously freaked out and thrilled by the phobic inducing characters and situations he crafted.

Verdict: The City's Son blew me away with its originality and creativity. I can't help rub my hands in glee with the thought that there will be two more installments!
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on 20 June 2013
I bought this book for my 13 year old son on a recommendation from Amazon and although I have not read it myself, he has been unable to put it down and was devastated to find the next book is not available yet!!!
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on 8 April 2016
Tom Pollack has an extraordinary gift in creating a superb fantasy alternate world in London. Having lived in London, I was entranced with what he came up with. His imagination has turned it into a place populated with strange magical characters, gods, weird creatures etc. Beth is a graffiti artist, which as far as I'm concerned gives her real cache. She has run away from betrayal and home when she happens to encounter Filius/Urchin and a world that is threatened. Beth helps to raise an army to counter the threat and comes to face some hard decisions. I really liked Pen, although I felt there could have been a more in depth role for her in the story. At times, the story felt uneven and the characters a little too simple but I still enjoyed the book very much. Many thanks to Quercus (US) for a copy of the book via netgalley.
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on 8 January 2016
Wow! Just wow. This is the most original book I've read since 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman. It's very similar to the aforementioned but it's still very different. I got drawn into the world of Filius Viae, Prince of the Streets, and his friends and peers easily, immediately and deeply. His world and the world of two best friends, Beth and Pen are so different and at the start of the book, it's an amazing, stark contrast but when the two worlds collide, it's a magical, dark, scary, romantic, dangerous marriage. In Fil's world, London is a living, breathing organism of cranes, machines, telephone wires and rubbish and it's just mesmerising. I love the dialogue between Fil and Beth and I love the relationship between Beth and Pen. Every chapter ends with a page turning, cliff hanger and towards the end, the pace really picks up and culminates in one hell of a finale! I cannot wait to read the second book in the Skyscraper Throne series, 'The Glass Republic'.
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on 27 August 2015
For me, this book was near perfect. It's gorgeously written, smooth and lyrical, finding beauty in even the darkest and filthiest areas of London. Pollock's imagination and world building are seemingly limitless. Although the novel initially throws the reader in the deep end, his world is swift to emerge the reader as it starts to introduce the many different factions that populate the City.

The story is not a light read. It's dark and violent and utterly heartbreaking in places. Danger lurks in every corner of Pollock's London and good characters regularly meet with tragedy. The plot is full of many twists and turns, all of which are foreshadowed from early on and yet still managed to take me by surprise (these are the best kind of twists).

The characters are vibrant and incredibly likable. Beth is a brilliantly strong heroine (although she did pledge herself to Fil alarmingly quickly and seemingly without a second thought). She went from strength to strength within the story yet never felt like a Mary Sue - Pollock kept her grounded through her doubt and humanity. Pen was also an excellent character. Her story arc was often difficult to read and bittersweet in the end but felt like the start of her journey. I can't wait to see where the sequel takes her.

All in all, I was blown away by this novel and can't wait to read more by this author.
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on 28 December 2015
I really wish it had been made clear that this book was YA - instead I only found out after purchasing and several pages in. More fool me for not looking outside the amazon reviews - still, lesson learned, I'll make a point of looking at reviews further afield (goodread etc) in future before making the leap.

I'm NOT giving the book a poor review at all (partly because I only made the first couple of chapters before it switched me off) purely posting this in case it helps anyone else's decision - just for the sake of awareness, this is most definitely a 'young adult' category book.
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on 9 September 2013
If I`d been 50 years younger I would have loved it. As it was, I`ll leave this one to the Twilight fans. Nice book - but definitely for young teens.
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on 19 March 2014
Railwraiths, lightbulb militia, punishment priests, and scaffolding wolves!

Tom Pollock did something marvelous with The City’s Son. He created a populace of people that inhabit a city and yet are made of the city itself! The story has a quick enough pace to have you sitting up and paying attention as the action flings you through the pages.

The details are rich and often disturbing. Pollock has a great descriptive writing style that wasn’t over the top for me. I could visualize the creatures and people of the city but wasn’t so bogged down by flowery details that often annoy me in the way some other authors write. In fact I loved how this was a YA book and yet it was still intense and gritty. Then unexpectedly I would be surprised by a random bit of poetry.

“…you might be the puzzle-piece of me, I’ve never seen.” 3% on the Kindle app

I also have to include this quote below because I found it so romantic in the quirkiest way. It made my heart bleed.

“Do I scare you witless enough to make you brave?” 92% on the Kindle app

The story of The City’s Son sucked me right in and the mystery of it all kept me there. I was immediately taken with Beth and her tough yet vulnerable personality. However, there was a small downside to having so much action – such that shortly after Beth and Filius met I felt like I didn’t get to know Filius as well as I should have. There were quite a few different POV’s that were present, which I always love if done well, and it certainly was!

Absolutely looking forward to the next book!
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The City's Son is an impressive debut and a great introduction to the Skyscraper Throne trilogy. Tom Pollock has taken the London we know and love and brought it to life with a vast array of weird and wonderful creatures that you will never have come across before. The amount imagination that has gone into creating this sinister and dark side of London is astounding and I absolutely loved discovering the ghostly railwraiths, pavement priests, people made of glass and so much more. I think one of the things I loved most was the way the characters embody London and how at the same time the city becomes a character all of it's own. You never know what the author is going to throw at you next and I'm sure you'll be delighted with the things you uncover.

Graffiti artist Beth has spent hours exploring the less well known parts of London with her best friend Pen, she loves her city but has no idea of the hidden wonders that are right under her nose. A chance encounter with Filius changes her life forever as he opens her eyes to things she never even dreamed of. She suddenly finds herself having to choose sides in a war that most people don't even realise is going on around them. Fil is the son of the Mater Viae, the goddess of London, and in her absence it is up to him to fight against her mortal enemy, the Crane King known as Reach. With Beth's help Fil needs to rally his mother's troops but will they trust him to lead them to victory?

I really enjoyed seeing Fil's London through Beth's eyes, she's as new to everything going on around her as we are and her amazement was catching. We see not only the depth of London's history but also the futuristic glass skyscrapers that change the city skylines on almost a daily basis. These two very different sides of London are fighting against each other in a battle like nothing you've ever seen before with Fil and Beth right at the centre of it. Fil has grown up on the streets of London and doesn't even remember his mother, he is used to being able to do whatever he wants but he has always had the hope that his mother would return one day to deal with Reach herself. When it comes to a point that he must take action he is lost and doesn't know where to start, it is only with Beth's help that he starts to take his responsibility seriously and plan a counter attack against Reach.

While Beth was a likeable character I have to say that the person I felt most connected to was probably her best friend Pen. The two girls didn't part on the best terms but when Pen comes searching for her friend she is unprepared for what she will find. The scenes from her point of view were harrowing to say the least but she show so much strength and I'm delighted to learn that she will be the main character in the second book, The Glass Republic. My heart absolutely broke for the things that she goes through and I'll be very interested to see how she copes in the aftermath of everything she has suffered. Other memorable characters were Fil's nanny Gutterglass, a creature who builds itself bodies out of any old garbage that just happens to be lying around, and Victor, the Russian drunk who takes Beth under his protection. They both added humour to what would have been very a dark story without them.

If I had one complaint about the book it would be that Beth and Fil's relationship seems to develop a little too quickly. I'd really have liked them to spend more time becoming friends before romance was introduced and I found their relationship unrealistic because it happened so fast. Thankfully that is a minor complaint because their relationship is by no means the focus of the book so don't let that put you off giving it a try. If you're looking for a unique story that really brings London to life then you won't want to miss out on The City's Son!
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