The writing duo of Magnus Flyte creates another masterful novel in City of Lost Dreams, the sequel to last year’s City of Dark Magic. With vivid storytelling, Flyte imagines a beautiful world where the alchemy of old transforms the present. City of Lost Dreams is a thrilling adventure which brings history to life through effervescent characters of yesterday and today. This sequel expands upon the original and proves to be a great novel on its own.
In this action-packed sequel to City of Dark Magic, we find musicologist Sarah Weston in Vienna in search of a cure for her friend Pollina, who is now gravely ill and who may not have much time left. Meanwhile, Nicolas Pertusato, in London in search of an ancient alchemical cure for the girl, discovers an old enemy is one step ahead of him. In Prague, Prince Max tries to unravel the strange reappearance of a long dead saint while being pursued by a seductive red-headed historian with dark motives of her own.
In the city of Beethoven, Mozart, and Freud, Sarah becomes the target in a deadly web of intrigue that involves a scientist on the run, stolen art, seductive pastries, a few surprises from long-dead alchemists, a distractingly attractive horseman who’s more than a little bloodthirsty, and a trail of secrets and lies. But nothing will be more dangerous than the brilliant and vindictive villain who seeks to bend time itself. Sarah must travel deep into an ancient mystery to save the people she loves.
Flyte masterfully entwines the old and new in more ways than one in City of Lost Dreams. The first essence of this was the somewhat mundane but helpful threads of past plot points. This allowed the reader to focus on the story at hand rather than have to ask or remember facts about the prior book. I found this to be quite well done as it was neither intrusive nor lengthy. Instead, backstory was approached in a matter of fact that lent itself to the travels in history.
Art, science, history, and music are synergistically entwined throughout the story. While many would struggle with tying these themes, Flyte managed to do so splendidly. The plot naturally lends itself to this synergy when the protagonist Sarah travels to Vienna. One minute Sarah jokes about Klimt and the next she theorizes on Mesmer. These varied topics made the city somehow real, as I could almost envision Vienna through the eyes of the painter and the scientist.
I can imagine many a reader being inspired to learn more about the historical figures and their life’s work simply because of how Flyte writes. While I found this to be enhancing, there are some aspects of the intellectual approach which may be frustrating to some. Though many a reader may find themselves Googling to find out more about Elizabeth Weston or Rudolf II, I was somewhat surprised at the mix of several languages in City of Lost Dreams. This neither added nor detracted from the story but I imagine many will want to keep keep a translator on hand while reading.
New and old characters abound, making for a delightful change of nemesis and setting while maintaining consistency. The two characters I found most interesting in City of Lost Dreams were actually new to the cast. The things that made both of these women so interesting was the aspects they shared – passion and ambition. The first is so tied to history that she makes it her entire life; the second has science as her life’s work. Both of these women make choices solely based on these passions. Flyte writes these two as both sensible and insane, leaving the reader to decide how they feel.
There are so many wonderful gems of writing in City of Lost Dreams that I find myself hard pressed to remember them all. Stylistically, the shifts of perspective fit quite nicely and at times we are treated to read chapters of a character’s book detailing the life of Elizabeth Weston. This touch brought a charming dimension to the entire story. The small details of historical accuracy are perfect for history buffs such as the many hands a painting would pass through from turn of the twentieth century to present day Vienna. All of the facts are made entertaining and fit nicely with Sarah’s day to day life filled with spontaneous sex scenes and traipsing throughout Vienna. This entertainment is elevated by the urgency of Sarah’s quest to save Pollina, a blind teen composer who is on the brink of writing an opera.
There are very few books which are both intellectually stimulating and a joy to read. Flyte gives a little bit for everyone, be it the romance or fantasy fan. City of Lost Dreams is a captivating story which should be on everyone’s reading list. There are few books which are as inspiring as this.