5 Biblioshelf Musings about… The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen

Series: The Magicians of Venice
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 19th September 2019
Publisher: BHC Press
Pages: 324
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

The Immortal City is an adult fantasy novel set in Venice from Amy Kuivalainen. The story revolves around Dr. Penelope Bryne who is on the trail of finding the Lost City of Atlantis. There are some pretty awesome magicians, stunning scenery and a captivating alchemical mystery rooted in the mythology and folklore of a lost city which has baffled generations of academics and history lovers alike. Huge thanks to BHC Press and Netgalley for providing me with a complimetary eARC in an exchange for this honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god, sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.
Dr. Penelope Bryne is ridiculed by the academic community for her quest to find the remnants of Atlantis, but when an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site, she flies to Venice determined to help the police before the killer strikes again.
Penelope has spent her entire life trying to ignore the unexplainable and magical history of Atlantis, but when she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, everything she believes will be challenged. Little does she know, Alexis has spent the last three years doing his best to sabotage Penelope’s career so doesn’t learn the truth—Atlantis had seven magicians who survived, and who he has a duty to protect.
As Alexis draws her into the darkly, seductive world of magic and history, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head if she is to find the answers she seeks.
With the new MOSE system due to come online, and Carnivale exploding around them, Penelope and Alexis will have to work together to stop the killer and prevent dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

Viva Venezia – There were two words that made me hit that Request button as soon as I read the blurb of The Immortal City – one of them was ‘magicians’ and the other was Venice. Having been lucky enough to visit this stunning city, I’m always longing for a novel which is going to instantly transport me back to those canals and bring about the nostalgia of spending time there. Not many books have been able to do that for me, but The Immortal City definitely invoked my inner wanderlust and transported me back to that wondrous place. The detailed ways Amy describes the Magicians’ palazzo and local landmarks of Venice creates an absorbing setting which makes me want to hop right on plane and head back over to Italy. Incorporating the MOSE system (a design to try and protect Venice and the Lagoon from flooding) into the storyline adds a realistic and poignant edge to many of the topical news stories currently surrounding this famous city such as the rising water-levels and protection of the city and its heritage from mega cruise ships and mass tourism – preventing it from becoming our own modern-day Atlantis.

Lost civilisations – Atlantis has inspired countless stories and conspiracies across the generations. Don’t be duped, The Immortal City is not a quest to find the physical location of The Lost City of Atlantis – the author takes a different thread of this well-known myth by making it so that Penelope ends up finding the heart of what Atlantis left behind – the last guardians and magicians from a place lost to the sea. In my own opinion, I felt that one of the main messages here was trying to highlight that it is the stories and remnants of places which end up forming its heritage and keeping them alive, not necessarily physical places. The way the mythology of a lost civilization is tied together with a plot-line filled with forgotten languages, alchemical symbology and the one of the most amazing historical archives literature could ever imagine all makes for a fascinating plot which kept me turning page after page.

Move over Christian Grey…
…There’s a new hot guy in town and his name is Alexis Donato. This fantasy novel is definitely one for the adults out there. Alexis Donato, the dark and brooding magician at the centre of the story is HOT! The romance and relationship between him and Penelope tastefully fits into the story without bordering on seedy or distracting away from the plot and changing the tone of the novel to something more “chick-litty”. I definitely wouldn’t say no to being pulled out of a Venetian canal by him!

 The Atlantean microcosm – gimme more! – Amy Kuivalainen has created such an intriguing bunch of immortal characters. Packed with romance, banter, tension, tragedy and friendships, I quickly grew attached to each and every one of them. The events that happen towards the end of the story left me on a cliff edge waiting to see where this story goes next. Amy has created a little world of characters who I want to find out everything about. Having seen two listings for this book on Goodreads, I’m slightly unsure as to whether or not this is a standalone or part of a series as it’s listed as both but I would instantaneously be adding a sequel to my TBR should one be written… *hint hint* 🙏🙏 

More than just watery – There is a whole sunken city’s worth of different elements to like within this story that it could appeal to many readers. When I first requested it, I didn’t really know what to expect and at the start of reading it was clear this story didn’t really fit into just one bracket: there are murders and violence, but this doesn’t feel like a typical crime novel – the murders are filled with alchemical symbols and mystery which are used as plot devices throughout the story; there are magicians, but they are not your typical Dumbledores walking around in stuffy castles wearing cloaks – they are the last immortals left over from a lost civilization who are now living in our modern world; there is romance which varies from zero to all-consuming within mere pages but didn’t distract me from the main story; there is fantasy, history and magic that feels totally realistic, even though you know it’s just fiction.  Either way, there’s plenty to entertain!

Overall thoughts –
For the past few years, the books I’ve read have tended to be the ones which have been hyped about all over Goodreads or Bookstagram. I took a chance in reading The Immortal City and it was a breath of fresh air to my reading pile – this is the adult fantasy novel I have been waiting for! If you’re a fan of some of the things mentioned above, then I definitely recommend you try this book. It’s a little whirlwind of a ride and like all stories there are some points which don’t always flow or which may make you roll your eyes internally, but this book has definitely left me wanting to find out more about the captivating world of the Magicians of Venice and I’m positive I’ll be rereading it at some point in the near future. There is magic, gore, lust, danger, passion and a whole load of Italian/Atlantean goodness packed into every page. Yes this is a work of fiction, but holy gods do I wish it were real! Get me to those Palazzo archives right away!

T xx

Top Ten Tuesday – Places in Books I’d Love to Visit

After a year’s hiatus I’m finally getting back to the blog!  These last twelve months have been one hell of a bumpy ride and reading dropped off my radar so much that I didn’t even meet my reading challenge target for 2018 which I usually always exceed.
So now, after getting to grips with the stuff that has gone on, I’m finally getting to grips my mental health and anxiety, am coming out the other side and taking more time out for me by getting back to some of the things I love… reading! To mark the fresh start, the blog has a new name ‘The Biblioshelf’. I wasn’t particularly happy with the old one anyway so hopefully this will give me renewed motivation to keep going, starting with one of my favourite Book Tags ‘Top Ten Tuesday’.

Top Ten Tuesday by That Artsy Girl Reader is the ultimate tag for the bookish list-lover amongst us and I always look forward to seeing the different prompts and responses people have. It also helps by making me have a stern talking to myself to read more widely as most of my lists end up being from the same ten books just in a different order!

This week’s theme was ‘Places in Books I’d Love to Visit’. Hyperlinks of titles link to Goodreads.

10) The World of His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
I remember being hooked on Northern Lightswhen I was a child on holiday in Greece; so much so that the only part of the holiday I can actually remember is sitting by the pool and reading this book… That said, I haven’t actually read the remainder of the trilogy so one of my 2019 reading goals is to go right back to the beginning and immerse myself back into this glorious world that I remember loving but can’t quite remember why…

9) The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
So this one isn’t really a place from a book – it’s more a place to visit an object from the book…if that makes sense?! The Chemistry of Tears is centred around the creation of a gorgeous silver swan automaton. The Silver Swan which was created in the 18thCentury and is kept at the Bowes Museum in County Durham (England). It sits on a little pool of glass and eats up tiny silver fishes. I’d love to go and visit this incredible piece of clockwork one day, but for now I’ll just have to settle for watching people’s YouTube videos of it!

8) Narnia from The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
Who doesn’t want to crawl through the back of their wardrobe and end up in a magical place? I imagine Narnia as being one of the ‘must-see’ locations from the worlds of fantasy literature. I’d love to explore it with one of those passports that you stamp when you get to a different area.

7) Berk from How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Let’s face it, I’m only going here to see the amazing dragons!

6) Carcassonne from Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Kate Mosse’s books based in the Languedoc region of France always made me want to visit and due to this book Carcassonne is definitely one of my ‘to visit’ places in France. I love how she brings such a historical place to life and fills it with such mystery and intrigue. I’m also a sucker for a maze!

5) Kotor (Montenegro) from Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović
I loved this book so much and the way Lana writes about Old Town Catarro just seemed to appeal to every single one of my senses. I’d love to take a little boat trip to visit Our Lady of the Rocks which sits on a tiny island and I’d definitely have to find the little confectionery where Iris and Malina’s mother bakes delicious sounding cakes and pastries. I tried to convince my friend that we should go there on holiday, but we went to Walt Disney World instead!

4) The Cemetery of Forgotten Books from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Pick one book from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books then look after and protect it for the rest of your life…what book lover would turn down this opportunity? Zafón is one of my all-time favourite authors and is such a genius story-teller. Everything he writes is so lyrical and his character Daniel Sempere is probably one of literature’s greatest bibliophiles. I believe Barcelona, where the books are set, now has a trail dedicated to the Zafón’s stories and it’s definitely on my travel bucket list. I only wish that there was such a place as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books!

3) Terrasen from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas
I know it’s incredibly hyped but I fell head over heels in love for this series! To pick just one place in Erilea to visit was tricky but I knew as soon as I read the final book in the series (Kingdom of Ash) it had to be Terrasen. Obviously I’d be making sure to pack my forest disguise to try and hide in Oakwald in the attempt at spotting the elusive Little Folk and the Lord of the North!

2) Rivendell from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Let’s be real, I’d visit any place in Middle Earth (yep, even Mordor!) but seeing the elves in Rivendell would probably be the place I head to first. Or Gondor to see Aragorn, or to the Green Dragon to have a pint with the Hobbits, or to Fangorn to chat to the Ents…I could go on but then my list would probably be as long as the book itself!

1) Flourish and Blotts from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Once, a student I teach bought me a mug that says ‘Hogwarts wasn’t hiring so I teach muggles instead’. If the Wizarding World were a real place, I’d probably have emigrated there already. Similarly to Middle Earth, I couldn’t possibly just stop off at one place then head back home, but somewhere I have always wished I could step into was Flourish and Blotts. Surely it’s the ultimate bibliophile’s pit-stop in the amazingness that is the Wizarding World!

This was such a fun theme to explore for Top Ten Tuesday so thanks to That Artsy Girl Reader and Georgia @justreadthemm – now to try and curb that building wanderlust! What would make your list? Drop me and comment and let me know.

Until next time Bibliophiles, have a great week!

T xx