“This book is dark and intriguing and I really can’t think of another quite like it…”

~ Under the Covers

So going into this one I had no idea what to expect beyond a YA Fantasy. It was quite the ride.

Set in Chicago 1893, The City Beautiful follows Alter Rosen, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, as he wades through the city’s underbelly investing the murders of a string of Jewish boys from his neighbourhood, including his best friend, and struggles to figure out his own identity, all while trying to save enough money to bring his mother and sisters over to America in hopes of a better life. And if that isn’t enough, throw in a possession by his late friend’s dybbuk and a dangerous boy from his past that he can’t quite let go of, and Alter has got himself into a real mess.

The mix of mythology, historical events, and real, unapologetically explored challenges faced by immigrants to America (at the time, but also persisting today) gives The City Beautiful a unique juxtaposition between a typical YA fantasy “slay-the-monster” plot formula and heavy, more mature subject matter. This book is dark and intriguing and I really can’t think of another quite like it (and I have read a lot of books!).

My only challenges with this one was that is did take a while to get into – there were a lot of details upfront and I found the hook could have been stronger to draw the reader in – and though the MC is a teen, I’m not wholly on board with calling this YA. But, if you persist through the first 1/4 and keep an open mind, you will get to experience a rich world full of multi-faceted characters that will leave you needing a week just to process what you just read.

What did you think of our review?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!

[about-author author=”Aden Polydoros”]

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