Book Review: Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

Black City Saint (Black City Saint #1) by Richard A. Knaak

Publisher: Pyr

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Edition: Ebook, 390 Pages

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Fierie

Rating: 3.5/5

Control the dragon within


For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over.

Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die.

Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him…but ever seeking escape.

The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms…then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with an early copy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

I don’t read much urban fantasy, so I can’t say how well Black City Saint stacks up against other novels in the genre with certain elements and tropes it used. I do, however, read a lot of books, and know a good book when I read one. When Black City Saint had me up until 2 a.m. the first two nights reading it, that’s how I knew I had a good book!

Nick Medea is a detective of the paranormal – or that’s what his clients think, at least. In truth, he is actually a guardian of The Gate which separates the world of humans, from that of the Feirie. Not anyone has access to him; only for those who have a creature of the Feirie haunting their house will Nick’s number appear. It’s then Nick’s job to go in, destroy the trespasser from the Feirie – a creature from the Wyld – before they tear the balance between the two realms apart.

One evening he gets a call from a women by the name of Claryce. Upon seeing her, Nick realizes that it’s actually another reincarnation of Cleolinda. A women whom he loved when he was known by the name of Georgius in the time of the ancient Romans.

Upon investigating her “paranormal” disturbance, he begins to sense that her boss may not be whom he claims. Nick believes that Mr. Delke may in fact have actually been taken over Oberon – the ex-ruler of the Feiriefolk who tried to unit the two realms. Oberon is supposed to be dead though. Killed in the Great Fire by Nick and the dragon when he lasted attempted it.

It is now up to Nick to find out if Oberon is actually still alive, to prevent the two realms from combining again, and to save Claryce – aka. Cleolinda – from being killed again. Like she has every time before…

From what I’ve heard, a lot times the main protagonist in UF are the mysterious type who is either a detective or someone who is solving the mystery. At first, that was sort of the vibe I was getting from Nick. Quickly into the story though, any chance of him feeling like a stock character was thrown out the window when you realize that his part dog, part wolf pet, Fetch, can talk back to him; he is not actually hunting ghosts but these Wyld creatures from the Feirie realm; he was originally born in time of ancient Rome; and he shares his body with dragon. Awesome, right?

Nick’s character is surrounded by intrigue and mystery: Why does Fetch feel like he owes Nick? Who is this Vladimir and why does he too devote himself to Nick? What’s up Diolces and why can’t Nick forgive him? Claryce is Cleolinda resurrected? Nick has a dragon in him? All these questions lead to back to Nick’s – or should I say, Georgiues’ – history, and the realm of the Feirfolk for the answers.

As for the Feirie realm – is not a Disney wonderland. Oh, no. This is a dark, scary world. The creatures of the Wyld come into the human realm and inhabit the shadows as theses horrid, shape-shifting, tentacle creatures. I’ve never read any Lovecraft stores, but for some reason, I really want to say this has some Lovecraftian influence. Wether its Lovecraftian influence of not, these Wyld creatures add a nice touch of horror.

I feel I should clarify what I mean by “mysteries” surrounding Nick’s character: aside from he main main plot, these unknown answers and background information of characters and events that have already happened, before the book started, that we as readers are not privy to, kept my mind constantly racing. In that sense, you are kind of thrown into the middle of the overall story arc, but you do NOT feel lost reading. (It’s not like epic fantasy where I have to suddenly memorize 100+ characters and their family background and current political situation). Knaak does a great job at incorporating the reader in the story. I wasn’t wondering who the heck these characters were, but instead realized that Nick has an important history with each of these characters, that some big event happened that lead him to this moment, and this helped fueled me to keep reading.

The amount of information revealed about Nick’s past with all these characters is not completely revealed. Some of the mysteries do get fully explained, but not all. It’s only the first book is the series, so I wouldn’t want them to all be – however, those that weren’t, I felt I still needed to know more. Knack makes it apparent quickly what question you should be asking with each characters, and what their relationship with each other is like, but with most of the character’s history, we only get told what feels like a 1/4 of the truth or get told what the final answer was, but with all the details left out. No, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment while reading it, but when it was over, I just wanted a little more from the characters to hold me over until the next book.

The supporting characters were all good, and because you are only learning little bits of each of their personal stories, here and there, as the main plot progresses, I really couldn’t be sure whom I could or couldn’t trust, and this caused me to start to question whose side they are really on. I thought Fetch, the talking dog, was hilarious, and the dynamic between Nick and the dragon was very good, but I think my favorite character was actually the Mexican cop, Alejandro Cortez. Cortez did fit his role almost too perfectly, but it didn’t bother me much. Still was my favorite. And developed was good for most of other supporting characters too, but the one character I did have an issue with was Claryce. She was only one who I felt needed a tad bit more. Her actions and attitudes at the beginning didn’t make sense to me. I was missing a connection to her. Aside from furthering the plot, I didn’t see the influence for her to do what she was doing. Her character didn’t seem to take shape until towards the end, after I had had more time with her.

All in all, Black City Saint is a face-paced read, with a plot that hooked me in from the opening scene, and has more depth and background to the story than you first expect. Really, the biggest shock was realizing how deep and complex this series is actually going to be. It started off seeming very straight forward, but then I started to learn how complicated all the character’s pasts are and then how complex the overall plot gets… Impressive.

Yes, a few more answers and explanations to some things would have satisfied me a bit more, but that might just be me. Regardless though, the main plot itself is already great, and would have kept me reading, but the amount of mystery surrounding these characters and the Feirie realm – that extra layer to the story – compelled me to keep reading and not take any breaks.

There is still a lot to be told about this story about Nick’s character, and I’ll be looking forward to reading more of it in the next book!

3.5/5 Rating


Date Read: 08/10/15 - 08/15/15
Review Written: 08/19/15
Tagged , , , , ,

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Black City Saint by Richard A. Knaak

  1. Tammy says:

    Wow, March! That sure seems far away:-) Glad you enjoyed this, I saw this cover pop up somewhere else recently and I love urban fantasy, so I can totally see myself adding this to my TBR list.


    • Yeah, very far away. I read it back in August, and last month Knaak emailed saying we could post our reviews whenever we wanted. I was going to wait (much) closer to the release date, but then I saw some reviews posted on Goodreads, and well, I want my review so be on the first page 😀 Lol


  2. andris says:

    Tottaly sold!
    I remember Knaak as author of “Legend of Huma” from Dragonlace series, loved that book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never read Knaak outside of his World of Warcraft novels (and eh…let’s not get into that lest I spike my blood pressure) so I’m very curious about this. Looks like this was already added to my books-to-watch list 🙂


  4. Yes, any book that can keep you up past 2AM is doing something very right! Will have to keep my eye out for this one


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