Review: The City of Silk and Steel / Author: Mike Carey, Linda Carey, Louise Carey / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: March 21st
The City of Silk and Steel is an oddity in many ways. For a start, it has three authors: comic’s writer Mike Carey, Young Adult novelist Linda Carey and their daughter, Louise Carey. It’s also not a single tale; it has many short stories told from multiple perspectives. It’s tempting to describe the book as an Arabian Nights style story, but that would give the wrong impression. Though The City of Silk and Steel is set in a fantasy world inspired by the Middle East, and is composed of lots of short stories, each tale is part of an intricate weave, reaching to a series of revelations and an extremely engaging conclusion.
It concerns a band of concubines and their families who have been cast out into the desert. Pursued by the agents of a cruel despot, the refugees tell each other stories as they struggle to survive. The format allows the authors to describe a detailed and intricate world without having to be heavy handed with exposition, and each story flows seamlessly to the next. It’s a pretty smooth read, though it benefits from being read piecemeal rather than in one sitting, as many of the elements take a while to sink in. The characters are very engaging, and though we have a large cast, they’re distinctive enough to prevent confusion.
The Careys have created a remarkable work here, one that is very likely to stand the test of time. Not only is it filled with strong protagonists and intricate storylines, it’s also funny, sexy and exciting in equal parts, and almost demands an immediate re-reading upon completion. Thoroughly recommended.