Review: Our Lady of the Streets, by Tom Pollock

Our Lady of the Streets

Series: The Skyscraper Throne Trilogy #3 | Genre: Urban fantasy, YA | This edition: Hardcover | Source: Publisher (review copy) | Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books | Publication date: 7th August 2014  | My rating: 5/5

IMPORTANT NOTE! The synopsis for this book, as well as my review, will contain certain series spoilers. If you haven’t yet gotten as far as this book, you may want to read it first…

Four months ago, Mater Viae, the Goddess of London, returned from London-Under- Glass to reclaim her throne. And ever since then, London has been dying.

Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating anyone and anything touching them. Towers crash to the ground, their foundations decayed.

As the streets sicken, so does Beth, drawn ever deeper into the heart of the city, while Pen fights desperately for a way to save her. But when they discover that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond London’s borders, they must make a choice: Beth has it within her to unleash the city’s oldest and greatest powers – powers that could challenge the vengeful goddess, or destroy the city itself.

This book has been one of my most eagerly anticipated books of this year, not least because it brings to an end one of the most exciting and imaginative trilogies I’ve ever read. Tom Pollock got my attention with The City’s Son, and kept it by upping his game tremendously with The Glass Republic. With Our Lady Of The Streets, he (quite literally) brings the house down for a finale that is nothing short of epic. I can’t deny that I’ll be sorry to see this series go, but really? What a way to go.

Beth and Pen are back together for this last installment, and as I’ve noted before, the relationship between these two is one of the most interesting and well-written relationships I’ve seen. It’s had its ups and downs, and it has more still as this book progresses, but at the end of the day it’s as solid as bedrock. These two and their friendship are going to stay with me for a long time yet, I suspect.

Speaking of bedrock, however, London’s is looking a bit shaky before the end here… That epic factor I mentioned has a lot to do with the, ahem, redesigning of the city’s skyline courtesy of Mater Viae, and Pollock doesn’t do anything by halves here. Why stop at London Bridge when you’ve got so much more to play with, right? For readers with any sort of imagination to speak of, the lay of the land (pun totally intended) as this series finale gets underway is looking pretty grim. London’s streets are being claimed by fever, buildings are crumbling at their foundations, entire areas are being reshaped at Mater Viae’s will… It’s infected. It’s sick, and the dangers that Beth Bradley has to face in order to save it are as nerve-wracking as the mental spectacle I enjoyed was breathtaking.

And, at one very memorable point in particular, I actually do mean breathtaking. As in, I forgot to take a damn breath. I won’t get too spoilery, but if you’ve read the previous books, I have three little words for you…

There is no flailing gif in the WORLD good enough for this one, folks.

More than stealing my breath, though, this book – heck, this whole series – has been tugging the old heartstrings with just as much relentlessness. The friendship between Beth and Pen isn’t the only relationship here to have made an impression on me. There’s been friendship, romance, betrayal and bargaining, and none of it has ever felt tacked on or superfluous. This is as much to Tom Pollock’s credit as any amount of epic spectacle, and for this as much as (if not more than) anything I applaud him.

It’s just all amazing. From the worldbuilding, to the romances and their related plot twists, right on through the magnificent cast reassembly and finally to the dizzying heights of That Epic Conclusion, there has been nothing and no one in this story I haven’t loved to read about. I will be sad to see it all go, but hey. That’s what rereads are for, right? Well, I’ll be damned if I don’t return to this glorious, weird and downright messed up version of London someday really soon.

To sum up, Tom Pollock has done himself proud with this finale, and with this trilogy as a whole. It comes full circle with style, is literally unputdownable, and is going to be a very hard act to follow – but whatever does follow, I am on board for the journey.

So long as there isn’t a train involved, that is. For some reason I trust them a lot less nowadays…

 

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