Author: Theo Lawrence
UK Publisher: Corgi
UK Release date: 11th October 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.
Mystic City has lots of references and parallels to Shakespeare, most particularly the forbidden love between two young people from rival families. I loved how this classic theme was paired with dystopian and paranormal elements; New York had been transformed into a futuristic Venice with the global-warming flooded streets in the Depths and its motorised gondoliers. With the contrast between luxurious high rises and the humble Depths, the setting was perfect for two star-crossed lovers to find each other.
I loved both Hunter and Aria. Aria, although brought up in a very wealthy and powerful family, was a sympathetic and caring person. Her family's power doesn't seem to have been built on honest foundations, and rather than go along with it and enjoy all the luxuries thrown at her, Aria was determined to find out the truth and fight for what was right no matter the consequences. I thought Aria and Hunter were a perfect pair and really wanted to see them together. Hunter was a mysterious, mystic rebel, combining a dark and dangerous side with a funny, charming and protective personality. I liked the way he teased Aria, and was a sensitive and caring person with real charisma. As an undrained mystic rebel, he was going against the city laws, but honestly who could blame him. He was standing up against the oppression and persecution of mystics which gave him a passionate, moral and slightly wild edge.
Although huge chunks of the plot were easy to foretell, I didn't mind because I was so invested in Hunter and Aria and their potential relationship. Their escapades to the Depths, especially during the old-fashioned carnival, were so romantic. When Aria was sneaky around and hiding from her family there was palpable tension and also plenty of mystery as Aria tried to fill in the missing gaps of her memory and figure out what the interesting little locket meant. This tension reached some big climaxes as she was discovered by her family and forced into some very horrible situations. Quite frankly I don't know how such a selfish, evil family brought up such an amazing girl!
Aria's friends were your typical spoilt socialites. They were selfish, ignorant and just a little annoying. Their speech included words like "upper" to describe anything cool. It definitely made the point that they were the popular girls, although it bugged me a little. But more importantly, their behaviour gave a strong contrast to Aria's; whereas they wanted to shop, eat and look good, Aria wasn't bothered attending parties or climbing the social ladder, caring instead about equality, fairness and truth. I did however love Turk, Hunter's best friend. He was witty, cool and cared about his friends, and I would much rather have him as a friend.
Mystic City is a gripping tale of forbidden love, magic, politics and fighting for what is right.