Tuesday, December 29, 2020

City of the Plague God

Chadda, Sarwat. City of the Plague God
January 5th 2021 by Rick Riordan Presents
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sik's family runs a deli in New York City, and he spends many hours there working for his family, especially since his older brother, Mo, was also fond of the business, but died in a car accident. His brother's friend, Daoud, also helps out a lot, and lives with the family since his acting/modeling career isn't going as well as he would like. When weird things start to happen, Sik's mother and father become ill and the deli is destroyed by rot and decay. It turns out that there are large creatures working for Nergal, the plague god, and hunting down Sik because it is thought his brother entrusted him with some secrets. Sik finds help from an unlikely source: Belet, a girl who is always in trouble at his school. Since his parents are in the hospital and he can't even visit because the authorities want to quarantine him, Belet and her mother take him in. They live in a very posh apartment, and Sik realizes that Belet's mother is the goddess Ishtar. Because she is the goddess of both love and war, she takes in children who have lost their entire families in miltary disputes. Sik brushes up on his fighting skills and learns a bit more about Nergal and his methods, but have trouble figuring out exactly what it is that Nergal wants from him. The plague continues to spread throughout the city, and things are looking grim. Without Ishtar to help them, will Belet and Sik be able to figure out Nergal's evil plans? The answer lies in Mo's love of flowers and gardening, an ancient but retired deity, and a flower in Central Park, but first there is plenty of fighting, pustulant rats, and maggots!
Strengths: This had a lot of nonstop action and plenty of gross details about Nergal's work; after the deli was destroyed, even the wood had rotted! There are creatures who talk in rhyme and spread mayhem, swords that talk, and some really fun details about Belet and Ishtar's life. Sik's backstory is woven into this well, and his connection with his brother, and his brother's connection to the story of Gilgamesh and Mesopotamian legends sets the stage for a lot of emotional motivation. Sik's family is from Iraq, and Mo had spent time there doing humanitarian work, which was a nice touch. This concludes in a satisfying enough way that this could be a stand alone, which would be great-- I'd love to have more single book fantasies with cultural connection for my readers who don't want to commit to four or more 400 page books. 
Weaknesses: I was 200 pages into the nonstop action before I realized that there was relatively little that had happened to move the plot forward, and I kept expecting more character development from Sik. That could be because a 7th grader and I have been having daily conversations about various books in the Rick Riordan series about how hard it is for me to keep plot and characters straight, but this somehow made it harder for me to get invested in the story. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and glad to see Gilgamesh and Mesopotamian mythology involved in an action packed new story!

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I've been so impressed with the Rick Riordan imprints that I'll definitely be checking this one out.