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The City's Son (Skyscraper Throne Series #1)

The City's Son (Skyscraper Throne Series #1)

3.7 4
by Tom Pollock

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Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.

When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she meets Filius Viae, London's ragged crown


Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.

When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she meets Filius Viae, London's ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most. An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St. Paul's Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love.

The City's Son is the first book of The Skyscraper Throne-a story about family, friends, and monsters, and how you can't always tell which is which.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In debut author Pollock’s alternately glittering and gritty urban fantasy, first in the Skyscraper Throne trilogy, London is a secret battleground between the forces of the god Reach, “the Crane King,” who would devastate the city with soulless and sterile urban development, and Mater Viae, “Our Lady of the Streets,” goddess of London’s teeming vermin—not just rats and feral cats, but also creatures made from masonry, electricity, and garbage. With the goddess mysteriously absent, her son, Filius, “a skinny boy wearing only a pair of filthy ripped jeans,” must oppose Reach, aided by his faithful trash monster, Gutterglass, and Beth Bradley, a delinquent teenager with a genius for graffiti and the courage to stand up to an angry, sentient locomotive. While there can be an overabundance of detail regarding the inner workings of Pollock’s modern-day London, the overall effect is that of a city transformed by ephemeral, incandescent magic. Gorgeously written and brimming with bizarre urban creatures, this darkly imagined and sometimes painful tale should delight fans of Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, and Holly Black. Ages 12–up. Agent: Amy Boggs, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Gorgeously written and brimming with bizarre urban creatures, this darkly imagined and sometimes painful tale should delight fans of Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, and Holly Black"—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"An impeccably dark parable, endlessly inventive and utterly compelling"—Mike Carey, author of The Unwritten, Lucifer and X-Men

"I cannot say enough times that you need to read this book. Intelligent, true to its genre, and the most fun thing I've read this fall"—San Francisco Book Review

"Vivid, inventive and truly weird"—Daily Mail

"Gritty, dynamic, and beautiful - I can't wait for more"—Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic

"One of the most imaginative pieces of genre fiction I've ever read"—Fantasy-faction.com

"He nails that spot between utterly normal and blood-curdlingly weird perfectly"—Jon Courtenay Grimwood, author of the Assassini novels

"A delicious and truly urban fantasy which makes wonderful use of its setting and explores what cities really are. If you like urban fantasy, you should definitely check this book out!"—Jellyfish Reads

"There's something here for everyone; excitement, adventure, innovation and also depth of narrative, depth of world and, most important, depth of personality and emotion"—Adventures With Words

"The world building and imagination are first class"—Birmingham SF Group

"[Pollock's] a fine stylist who can tell a good yarn. There's an urban energy and feel to this book that is so appropriate to the story it tells."—Fed on Peaches

"a good, fun YA book that feels like a solid start to an interesting series reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere."—Roadside Reader

Children's Literature - Sharon M. Himsl
London is like any city of old, with its crumbling buildings and lost memories, buried in the wake of skyscrapers and change. But what if vintage lampposts, graveyard statues, junkyard rubble and its homeless remnants could speak? Would they fight back against the skyscraper realm? This is the centuries-old, magical underworld that Tom Pollock creates in his debut urban fantasy novel. Beth Bradley, a high school student at Frostfield High, wanders into this monster-filled world accidentally, but the "real" world she leaves behind is no less monstrous. At home, her zombie-like father has become catatonic ever since Beth's mother died. Beth spends a lot time on the streets drawing graffiti and getting into trouble at school as a result. Beth's only real support is Pen, her Pakistani best friend. Pen, too, deals with "real" life monsters. A math teacher at school has not only abused her, but exerts terrible control. The friendship splinters when Beth mistakenly believes that Pen has betrayed her in a school incident. Beth leaves home for good and meets Filius, the fifteen-year-old crown prince of the underworld. Beth finds a home never before imagined, complete with talking statues, pylon spiders, a junkyard character named Gutterglass, and more. A relationship develops between Filius and Beth as they pull together forces to battle Reach, who threatens to destroy the city. Meanwhile, Pen sets out to find Beth, along with Beth's father. However, Pen is captured by the Wire Mistress, Reach's priestess, and her body is taken over. Mr. Bradley perseveres and finds a way to help his daughter, while Beth is forced to fight her best friend in the final battle. The City's Son (Book 1 in series) is well-written, gritty and thought-provoking. Readers should be advised of violence, language, and sexual content. Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
VOYA - Cheryl Clark
Ignored by her bereaved father and betrayed by her best friend, Beth turns to the streets of London, where she meets a boy with concrete-colored skin whose closest acquaintances are women made of light and an anthropomorphic pile of garbage. His name is Filius, and he is the son of a goddess. He is also building an army to wage war against a malign force called Reach, but it is only with Beth's help that he will be able to overcome his own fears and face his greatest enemy. Outrageous plot? Yes! Outlandish characters? Definitely! In the hands of a great novelist, these elements make readers eager to suspend their disbelief. Unfortunately, in this case, these devices just add up to a peculiar book. The book has several shortcomings. The antagonist symbolizes the contradictory concepts of both urban destruction and skyscraper construction. The human characters exhibit no surprise whatsoever when suddenly faced with phenomena that have no explanation. Furthermore, the characters that are supposed to intrinsically represent the city do not do so at all. How are figures trapped behind mirrors and babies born in statues symbolic of a metropolis? In a novel whose core is based on preposterous ideas, it is essential that all its elements emerge organically from the context. The City's Son fails at this. Add to that shifting verb tenses and ubiquitous British slang, and you have a novel that will probably struggle to find an audience willing to give it a chance. Reviewer: Cheryl Clark
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—London teems with beings that human inhabitants do not see, from smoky Railwraiths that emerge from subways and train yards to metallic Motherweb spiders. Beth Bradley, 16, is a tagger, spending most of her time wandering the city, marking buildings and bridges with impassioned images. Filius Viae is a hunter, "the boy with the city in his skin," protecting unseeing humans from the urban-other that share the streets. He is also son and heir of the goddess Mater Viae, who disappeared years before after defeating the malevolent Reach in the Great Fire. Fil and Beth join forces to destroy the newly resurrected Reach, each filling an empty emotional space for the other; their relationship struggles to evolve in the rocky chaos of an apparently unwinnable conflict. Pollock's urban adventure is steeped in the concrete fantastical, the sentient supernaturals of the London streets emerging fully realized from the asphalt. Compelling language and brisk dialogue add texture and humor to tight prose that speeds through a well-built fantasy world with nothing of the gossamer about it. Beth and Fil are commandos in a violent war for survival, and there are ghastly casualties. A hopeful sign of life renewed from the rubble offers a potent invitation to the promised sequel.Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL
Kirkus Reviews
A graffiti artist finds purpose in this most urban of urban fantasies. Beth, 16, flees expulsion, a broken friendship and a dysfunctionally grieving father straight into the arms of a ragged warrior. Filius Viae is the Son of the Streets, the only child of the goddess London. Filius was born into an eternal battle between the spirits of the city and their nemesis, the god of ceaseless growth. Beth joins the battle out of restlessness, but she stays for herself and her growing love for this strange other London of weevils and cockroaches, Pylon Spiders and feuding Lampfolk. The richly drawn setting evokes China Miéville's Un Lun Dun (2007); though Beth isn't as richly drawn as UnLondon's Deeba, she has her own scruffy charm. Her victories come through cocksure bravado, boldfaced cheek and the assurance that she's got nothing to lose. Beth's coming-of-age is presented in uneven, symbolic prose that sometimes overreaches, littering her tale with overwrought metaphor, but it also rises to poetry in its loving affection for London's filth and scars. A slow and dragging buildup is redeemed not just by the well-paced climax, but by the emerging heroism of the most unexpected characters. Ultimately, the density of this series opener pays off; the countless little details culminate in a satisfying resolution with no destined heroes, only individuals struggling along the best they can. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Product Details

Publication date:
Skyscraper Throne Series , #1
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
File size:
870 KB
Age Range:
12 - 16 Years

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Meet the Author

Tom Pollock is a graduate of the Sussex University creative writing program. In 2013, The Guardian named him one of the twenty best young novelists in science fiction. He lives and writes in London.

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The City's Son 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Completely novel world - loved it.
Jess_the_reader More than 1 year ago
I really tried to read it, but after i got through about 6 chapters, i was so confused i had to stop reading. so i started skipping ahead and skimming the book, and became even more confused as things went along. I got to the end, and was thoroughly disappointed, though it was a slightly happy ending though even that was a bit confusing. No, more than a bit. I don't know what to think of this book, but it says a lot if i just ended up skimming it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to stop reading the discription when I got to the part aboit Beth being a graffiti artist. I'm sorry, but graffiti is not a profession and its definitly not art. Its vandilism. Simple as that.