Blackfish City

Blackfish City: A Novel - Sam J. Miller

This book is an interesting tapestry of a story. The city takes center stage early on, becoming a central focus for both the storytelling and the feel of the book. Usually I disengage when a book spends a lot of time on setting, but this time it worked for me. I think the reason this worked for me was that the world-building was less concerned with getting all the details perfect and more focused on evoking a mood and tone. And that mood? Very cyberpunky. The push and pull between humanity and technology, and the haves and have nots, was central to the world and the feel. The story, less so.


About the story. Weirdly the main plot landed with mixed results for me. Written in alternating POVs you get to see the city through different lenses. Eventually each individual storyline weaves together into a greater whole, and once that form began to emerge my enthusiasm waned somewhat. This is one of those reads where I liked the set-up more than the conclusion. The core story the plot ends up telling is one of family and blood, and with so much of the tension earlier in the book being found in other avenues I was a bit disappointed it went the direction it did. (I don't want to get into spoilers.) That said, I did like at least half of the characters and the world they walked through enough to buy in. The writing style also kept me turning pages even when I wasn't always engaged with a specific plot thread or character.


This one was a bit of a mixed bag, but in the end it came down to feel for me. It's been awhile since I read a book that pulled me into a setting quite the way this one did. If you're wanting something urban fantasy adjacent, chock full of an orcamancer kicking ass, you will disappointed. If you're looking for something set in a bleak decaying future, with a diverse cast of broken characters, and a slow build, this might be up your alley. I'm curious to see how this author grows in the future and I'm onboard for new adventures.