Welcome to our April 2022 Book Chat! I’ll be honest that even after reading this one, I’m not sure exactly what I think about it. We definitely have a lot to chat about so let’s jump right in with the usual details.


City of Thorns by C.N. Crawford
Book 1 of 3: The Demon Queen Trials
Published: Aug 13, 2021
Amazon: 3,423 ratings; 4.3 avg
Goodreads: 10,862 ratings; 3.95 avg
1st person POV
Trope: enemies to lovers, identical strangers

I never thought I’d be singing happy birthday to myself in a dungeon. And yet when a sinfully sexy demon crashes happy hour, that’s exactly what happens. He’s known as the Lord of Chaos, and he’s mistaken me for my succubus doppelgänger.

Happy birthday to me.

When he tastes my blood, he finally understands I’m mortal. And I realize we have something in common: we both crave revenge. So we make a deal: I can stay in the forbidden city to hunt for my mom’s killer. In return, I’ll help him get the vengeance he craves. I just have to pose as a sexy succubus. One problem–he’s my number one suspect.

And that’s increasingly hard to remember as he teaches me my role: seduction. With each heated touch I drift further into peril. And if I fall under his seductive spell, death awaits me.


As usual, despite high averages from our fellow readers, there are still repeated criticisms in the negative reviews. And, as usual, I’d encourage all readers and authors to remember that no book is for everyone and that’s okay.

Negative reader reviews:
–juvenile writing style
–unimaginative worldbuilding
–annoying MCs [flat characters]
–overuse of psychology

Now that we have other readers’ opinions, I’ll share my own!

Worldbuilding
I found it engaging in the beginning as the world was different – a demon city in the human world?! A historical battle with a peace agreement locking demons into those cities? Cool! There was a bit of an info dump but it kinda worked for the character and plot. Several reviewers noted too many similarities with Sarah J. Maas, but I haven’t read ACOTAR. I did expect to get more details as we went along but that didn’t exactly happen. This is only book 1 though so perhaps those details are developed a bit more slowly and more will be shared later.

Main Characters [flat/ annoying]
I felt a lot of second-hand embarrassment for the FMC. Her class scene doesn’t go well and then she spills all her secrets within the first chapters. These aren’t fun secrets either so it borderline pathetic. It didn’t really make me connect to her or feel like she had the internal strength to accomplish her goals. She had only a week to really make sweeping changes as part of her deal/ plan. With such a short window, I expected a lot of action/ growth to be crammed in. It felt more like the days were recapped and we were told what happened instead of seeing it play out with tension and fun. I feel like the potential was there, but it didn’t develop.

Not everyone liked our MMC but I found it easier to appreciate him. The more a character tells me they aren’t nice and don’t feel guilty, the more I think they protest too much and I want to see when they will be nice. That’s probably just a reader quirk of my own though!

Psychology
I’d have to agree with the overuse of psychology. However, I like the subject myself and it does make the FMC stand out in a unique way so it didn’t really bother me…at first. It did start to wear as it continued throughout the book.

Writing style
Normally, I share my favorite quotes to demonstrate my appreciation for a writer’s prose. This time, the ones that grabbed my attention weren’t as favorable.

“I must have looked a little maniacal because he was staring at me like I’d just announced my legs were made of ocelots.”

“I found myself losing myself in the music.”

While it was a quick read, the writing style wasn’t my favorite either. Much like the characters, I felt like there was a lot of unrealized potential there. There were some insightful ones though:

“The thing was, it was easy to act in the ways that were expected of you.”

Overall, I’m giving this 3/3.5 stars. I think I was expecting a lot and it’s always an issue when I can’t connect to the FMC. However, I very much like the plot idea and setting and it was a quick, easy read which I do prefer. I think there’s so much potential and this is only book 1. I certainly wouldn’t write off reading more in this series or more from this author.

Again, it’s a weird one for me. I felt like I should have liked more than I did…but I did like it.

Have you read this one? Please feel free to share your thoughts! If you’re interested in the writing side, keep reading below. If not, feel free to jump down to the cat/ book picture and see what’s next for our Book Chat!


As is often the case, the reader notes above start our conversation here. I really think it’s helped me to view a book as a reader then explore a bit more as a writer.

Character voice
As mentioned above, the FMC frequently spouts psychology. Some readers found this off-putting (and I found it annoying by the end). I also saw it more as a unique filter particular to this character. I remember noting the same thing with Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson being a mechanic and often sharing details from that perspective.

I think there’s definitely a balance to make our characters stand out while not isolating readers too much. Where is that line? That will differ from writer to writer and from reader to reader. If this is something you’ve struggled with, please feel free to comment with your pointers.

Imposter Syndrome
It’s definitely hard to keep from comparing ourselves to other writers…and it probably doesn’t help that readers will do the same. Yes, some reviewers noted the Maas comparison. The average rating is still around 4 out of 5. Would any of us really complain about the stats above? I wouldn’t!

I think imposter syndrome does keep us from reading sometimes. It certainly has been an issue for me and yes, I avoided genre comps for that and other reasons. It has been a few years now and I do believe reading in our genre (and outside of it) is essential. Yes, we’ll find some shared ideas and yes, we’ll read some authors who make us want to hide our work. Hopefully though, we can also learn a bit and become inspired.

I’ve learned about myself as a writer and as a reader. There are tropes I can read over and over. It wasn’t something I thought about before I started writing and I couldn’t have told you a single trope. Now though, I know I love grumpy x sunshine, 2-person love triangle, and found family. Knowing that and reading examples of it has only improved my writing (at least I think it has). It’s certainly added layers to how I read and how I write.

**Just a side note on tropes, if you’re active in reader groups, you’ll see them reference reading a book and wanting more like it. It’s sometimes broad – I want more fae main characters. Sometimes, it’s more specific – something dark and steamy with identical strangers. Reading more allows us to know more books and interact with readers without always pushing our own.**

Fellow authors, did you read this one? What lessons are you taking away from it? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’m open to guest posts in this format. If you’ve read a fantasy book and would like to review it here as a reader/ author, feel free to contact me.


Thank you all for joining for another Book Chat post! Below are the usual links for our April read and our May one. Of course, I’m including a cute cat picture too!

Until next time, fellow readers and authors!
-RSJ

Izzie and City of Thorns


US Amazon links (not affiliate links – always check the price):
City of Thorns (The Demon Queen Trials Book 1) by CN Crawford
Grave Witch (Alex Craft Series Book 1) by Kalanya Price

2 thoughts on “2022 Book Chat 4 – City of Thorns

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