Expelled from school, betrayed by her best friend and virtually ignored by her dad, who’s never recovered from the death of her mum, Beth Bradley retreats to the sanctuary of the streets, looking for a new home. What she finds is Filius Viae, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London, who opens her eyes to the place she’s never truly seen. But the hidden London is on the brink of destruction. Reach, the King of the Cranes, is a malign god of demolition, and he wants Filius dead. In the absence of the Lady of the Streets, Filius’ goddess mother, Beth rouses Filius to raise an alleyway army, to reclaim London’s skyscraper throne for the mother he’s never known. Beth has almost forgotten her old life – until her best friend and her father come searching for her, and she must choose between the streets and the life she left behind.
Despite it’s familiar UK location, reading The City’s Son, felt like tumbling down a rabbit hole, in to an unexpected and magical world filled with fantastical creatures. The irony is that this isn’t a separate, or secret world. This is our London.
Shunning the usual attractions, Pollock takes us on a sightseeing tour of the grubbier, graffiti strewn, and unsavory parts of our capital city. The parts that won’t be being showcased by the British tourist board this summer. Unhidden but unvalued, Filius’ kingdom is ignored or explained away.
For me there is nothing better than when an author really captures the atmosphere of a location, suspending my disbelief and transporting me in to the mist of the story. There were times when I was so absorbed in Pollock’s world building that my stomach lurched from his descriptions and I felt the desire to take a shower.
Despite the, at times, repulsive nature of Filius’ London I couldn’t help but share the characters affection for the city, not in spite of but, because of its untamed and scruffy nature.
When I say that Pollock brought London to life, I don’t just mean metaphorically. Pollock takes the mundane fabric of the city and doesn’t just craft a believable, if not uncomfortable environment, but the very creatures cohabiting London with us. I certainly won’t look at a flickering street lamp or a coil of barbed wire in the same way!
The City’s Son is told predominately from the first person perspectives of Filius the street urchin, prince and the 3rd person point of views of Beth a teenage graffiti artist and Pen her poet friend. Rather than causing confusion, I found that the multiple perspectives actually enriching to the story. Pollock reserved the first person perspective for Filius, allowing me in to the mind of the street prince and enabling me to accept this unusual character and his associates without question.
I was really impressed with Pollock’s development of strong female characters and the emphasis on forms of strength other than the physical; emotional strength, independence, courage and resilience.
I really enjoyed the exploration of friendship and relationships portrayed within the book. The developing relationship between the main characters felt natural and unrushed and while it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling in the mist of all the fast paced action, it certainly wouldn’t put off readers who don’t enjoy that aspect as much as I do.
I didn’t consider myself particularly fearful before I started reading The City’s Son, but Pollock’s descriptive narrative, hitched my breathing and spiked my pulse rate as I found myself simultaneously freaked out and thrilled by the phobic inducing characters and situations he crafted.
Verdict: The City’s Son blew me away with its originality and creativity. I can’t help rub my hands in glee with the thought that there will be two more instalments!
Please note that the featured artwork is for the UK hardback published by Jo Fletcher books on the 2nd of August 2012
Reviewed by Caroline