In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable–they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed–but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
Natalie is the Emissary’s daughter. She’s got power, status, prestige, and she’s beautiful. Ash is a Darkling – half blood drinker, half human. As a half-breed, life deposited him on the exact opposite end of the scale. He has no power, no prestige, and absolutely no status within Black City. He’s considered the lowest of the low.
Darklings and royalty don’t socialize together, and they certainly don’t mate, but sometimes it’s impossible to ignore the heart’s inner desires, especially in this case. One night while she’s trying to out smart her security detail, Natalie runs into Ash, and her life won’t ever be the same again…
As a Darkling, Ash’s heart doesn’t beat. Ever. At all. It’s something that has plagued him always and he hates being reminded of the fact. Until he meets Natalie, that is. Standing under a bridge, looking into her eyes, he feels something inside his chest stir, like actually move, and it scares him senseless. How is it possible that his heart actually moves whenever she’s around him? He knows its wrong, and he knows that its going to take him no place good, but he can’t stay away from her. The attraction he feels for her is more than some cosmic pull … every time he’s around her, his heart flutters, thumps, POUNDS in his chest. They’re destined to be together.
But Ash and Natalie are from opposite sides of the tracks, and being together isn’t really an option for them. Will they fight for each other and hide their love from the world around them, or will they do what’s right, and walk away before anyone gets hurt?
The premise behind this book is really quite outstanding. I loved the world Richards has created. It’s dark, grimy, and ruthless – all good ingredients for a heart-wrenching tale. There’s a good old love triangle woven into the mix, too. Instead of just depositing a third party into the story, though, Elizabeth Richards takes the notion of following our hearts desires to the next level. There’s an unexpected twist that link Natalie, Ash and party #3 together, in more ways than one.
There was one thing that bugged me a little, though. I felt the characters of Ash and Natalie were a little shallow and undeveloped. They both seemed incredibly flippant. Within just a few chapters it felt like they were declaring their love for each other and flipping anyone off who stood in their way. It was jarring and inorganic. They were telling us as readers that they were deeply in love with each other, but I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t feel their need for each other and when their declarations of love were made, I wasn’t particularly rooting for them as a couple, either. I would rather have been able to see their love for each other before declarations of doom and gloom were made.
The plot kept me going, however. Even though I wasn’t particularly taken by the lead characters, I definitely wanted to keep reading. Black City is unpredictable, highly creative, and engaging. Save some energy for the finale, though, as Black City goes out with a bit of a bang!
Publication date: November 2012
Publisher: G.P Putnam’s Sons – an imprint of Penguin
Teaser quote: The boy clutches his chest, like he’s in pain. He looks up at me with sparkling black eyes, and my heart stumbles and races to catch up with the beat.