Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore Review

Monday, June 16, 2014

Title: Dark Metropolis
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore (Twitter)
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: June 17, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.

Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron atthe club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.
Paranormal, so I've found, is a uniquely tricky genre to both read and write. It requires expert precision, a careful hand when crafting the world in which its characters live and a host of characters with whom we can easily and readily relate. From the premise alone, Dark Metropolis offers us all this and more. However, it's quickly noticed and understood that it's a trickier novel than the synopsis lets on. Jaclyn Dolamore has a uniquely perceptive writing style that lends to a near cinematic quality for this novel. I often felt us though I was being offered bits and pieces of the larger picture - though never quite enough to truly grasp the world in which our protagonist, Thea, lives.

In most paranormal novels that I've read, we're privy to a rich backstory that enables us to become fully invested in the world within the pages. Dark Metropolis, however, falters in that aspect, giving us glimmers of a magical world through Freddy and the Valkenrath brothers' plot arcs. Furthermore, though the novel is set in war-torn Germany, this unique setting is alluded to, but otherwise largely overlooked, leading to some disappointment in that aspect. For such an exciting time and place to be mentioned, I would have hoped to really explore the ramifications of the setting, as well as truly understand why this setting was chosen.

Thea, though our protagonist through the story, is not the sole focus, which allows us greater scope when reading the novel, but doesn't altogether give us that depth and deep-seeded understanding that we might have hoped for. While we begin with Thea, we quickly transition to Freddy and Nan, and we sort of lose the focus that I'd been hoping for, which might have provided some much-needed direction for the novel in the end. It must be said, however, that the characters were a highlight for me, and they definitely offered a unique perspective on the novel and the unfolding events as a whole.

Though I'd hoped for more depth and magic from Dark Metropolis, I was intrigued by the cinematic writing of the novel, and the darkness that the title implies was definitely front and center - something I can appreciate in any novel I read. I wasn't altogether blown away by the novel, but the author has potential, and I'd be interested to see where the story goes in the future. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal novels

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. This book does really sound like it has the potential to deliver a solid story, but with a lack of back story, I can understand why you would struggle to get into this book. But the writing does sound gorgeous, so I may just have to give this book a try one day! Fab review Melissa!

  2. I've heard something very similar from other reviews, the book is very engaging, but the world building is way too sparse! I'm still in the fence about this book, cause I know too many questions and not enough world building would irritate me.
    Thanks for a great honeste review Melissa!

  3. It sounds like this book has so much potential and I am intrigued by the writing, but I may just wait till I can borrow this one from the library. It seems like more details regarding the world building would have helped. I do love that cover though! Thanks for the honest review, Melissa!

  4. Too bad the world building is weak. I've actually got this one for review but with reading lack luster reviews for it, my expectations have been lowered.

  5. I didn't realize this was set in Germany. So sorry it doesn't live up to it's promise but as it is a series, maybe the next book will explain the missing elements. I would have problems with the lack of world building and change of focus as well. Glad to read your thoughts on this one.

  6. Most readers have had a similar reaction to this book, Melissa. I put off reading it and I think I might have been right in doing so. A lot of books these days seem to be weak in the world-building department and that's always just very disappointing when it's a paranormal or dystopian book. I don't think I would appreciate the glossing over the setting either.
    It's a shame because the book does seem to have a lot of potential. I'll be waiting to see how the series progresses before jumping into it.
    Lovely review, Melissa.

  7. Nice review. I was contemplating reading this one after passing by it a few times but I've become more intrigued the more I look at it and hear about it. It sounds like it would be an interesting read despite a few difficulties you had. Worldbuilding is a definite must for any story though, especially when the world is going to be sooo different from what we're living in. Like if there are new rules or "people/things" walking about. Sounds like that might be a challenge but I still might give it a go...once I whittle down the TBR mountain a bit! ;)

  8. You're right -- paranormal does require a deft hand, without too much and too little. We still need a strong backstory and worldbuilding but not too much that we're overwhelmed. Sounds like this story would have been better served if it focused on just one of the characters, rather than the three of them. Great review!

  9. Wonderful review! I felt the same about the wonderful, atmospheric feel and setting. Yet, something of the world felt missing to me as well. I loved the dark tone and horror elements as well, but also had hoped for more romance. It has a lot of potential for a series though :)

  10. I'd definitely struggle with the lack of depth in this installment, so I think I'll be waiting to see how the sequel unfolds before picking this one up. I love the cover and the promise of darkness is a huge allure, but I feel safer waiting to see how a series progresses these days -- too many burns to risk another one! Wonderful review, though, Melissa! :)


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