Lucy Saxon, The City Bleeds Gold, Bloomsbury, 1 May 2017, 368pp., $15.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781408847732
The third book in a fantasy adventure series by young British author Lucy Saxon, The City Bleeds Gold, is set in the same archipelagian world of Tellus, yet tells a story complete within itself. All three books also have in common independent young protagonists who strike out on their own with a strong sense of purpose as they seek to find their place in the world.
Noah has a good life as a talented mask maker, working with his beloved father and, although not high born, accepted as a suitor to Princess Crysta, the heir to the throne of Erova. Though only 18, Noah has, for a few years, also had a secret life, lived out under disguise in the Lower City by night. There he is Daniel, a Robin Hood figure who saves the weak from the oppression of corrupt gangs. But his love for Crysta and the weight of his responsibilities to the Royal Family make Noah’s double life increasingly problematic.
Now it is Harvest Festival time and Noah must support and protect Crysta and her family at this most important and potentially dangerous time. But he is not quite ready to forgo the mask of Daniel. Surely, he is too close to discovering and defeating the leader of the thugs, or is he more seduced by the power of his alter ego to threaten, and even to inflict violence upon his enemies?
This is an exciting, emotional and action filled adventure. Whilst a little melodramatic, it is a pleasing tale and one that gives great credit to the young in its ensemble of characters. Apart from Noah, there is the feisty Princess Crysta, her younger sister, Rosa (more reserved but just as strong we discover), and Damien, the head of the royal guards. Damien is like an older brother to the princesses, and a mentor to Noah. The romantic relationships in the novel, including a same sex attraction, are full of feeling but quite innocent.
Whilst the story is mix of derring-do, romance and political intrigue, the underlying theme of being true to oneself is strong – especially when Noah steps onto the precipice of a Jekyll and Hyde descent into the dark. But, although dark forces are present in the world of Tellus, the young and the good are well protected by its creator.
Reviewed by Marita Thomson