The Splendid City by Karen Hueller -Book review

Here is my review of this urban fantasy which has a huge dose of satire and a talking cat. Thank you #NetGalley and angry robot for my copy of The Splendid  City by Karen Hueller.

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: NetGalley and Angry Robot

In the state of Liberty, water is rationed at alarming prices, free speech is hardly without a cost, and Texas has just declared itself its own country. In this society, paranoia is well-suited because eyes and ears are all around, and they are judging. Always judging. This terrifying (and yet somehow vaguely familiar) terrain is explored via Eleanor – a young woman eagerly learning about the gifts of her magic through the support of her coven.
But being a white witch is not as easy as they portray it in the books, and she’s already been placed under ‘house arrest’ with a letch named Stan, a co-worker who wronged her in the past and now exists in the form of a cat. A talking cat who loves craft beers, picket lines, and duping and ‘shooting’ people.
Eleanor has no time for Stan and his shenanigans, because she finds herself helping another coven locate a missing witch which she thinks is mysteriously linked to the shortage of water in Liberty.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

This book was not what I expected but in a fun and interesting way.

I thought this would be straightforward urban fantasy featuring an underlying mystery that would be solved by the end of the book by the protagonist. But this book was so much more. My own perhaps inaccurate description would be a blend of urban fantasy, satire with feminist slant but with a dose of surreal humour.

The world-building is a fascinating mix of dystopia and quirky magic- with all-knowing disembodied heads and nougat that fly on butterfly wings. The book is set in an alternative ( or future, depending on how pessimistic you feel ) USA, where some cities have declared independence and have their own rules. Liberty is one such city with a President who is at the same time hated and loved and a massive shortage of water.

The book is told from the points of view of Eleanor, a white witch and Stan, a talking cat, points of view. Both the characters are difficult to like at the start. Eleanor has an interesting arc and I found myself rooting for her by the end. Unfortunately, Stan who was an awful person before he was transformed into a cat by Eleanor ( I thought a completely reasonable action) continues to be a completely awful cat-person.

The author has written a thought-provoking satire about several current socio-political issues but I did enjoy the conclusion of the main plot of the missing witch and her connection to the water shortage.

Perfect for fans of

I get a strong Terry Pratchett vibe when reading this book

Content warning

Sexual harassment, stalking, misogyny, racism 

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