Book Review: Our Lady of the Streets

Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock, The Skyscraper Throne #3

Four months ago, Mater Viae, the Goddess of London, returned from London-Under- Glass to reclaim her throne. And ever since then, London has been dying.

Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating anyone and anything touching them. Towers crash to the ground, their foundations decayed.

As the streets sicken, so does Beth, drawn ever deeper into the heart of the city, while Pen fights desperately for a way to save her. But when they discover that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond London’s borders, they must make a choice: Beth has it within her to unleash the city’s oldest and greatest powers – powers that could challenge the vengeful goddess, or destroy the city itself.


Last year I started reading The Skyscraper Throne of Tom Pollock with the first book in the series The City's Son. Being a long time fan of Urban Fantasy I intimidatingly liked the premise of the series. What I like to see in every Urban Fantasy is a unique concept, there are many tropes that have become standard in this genre and that frankly are quite boring to read about. With his first book and series Tom Pollock showed that he didn't fall in this category, he showed a lot of creativity in imagining his world and how he interprets Urban Fantasy. The storyline went from action packed in the first book to an emotional rollercoaster in the second book, with transforming his story in this way it was nigh on impossible to think about what would be in store for the conclusion but that it would be one grand finale. And it is! 
  
A lot of things have already transpired in the first two books. Here is brief recapture. The first book focused on Beth and Filius Viae, they met up with a freak accident and felt oddly drawn to each other. Beth a rebellious teenager and Filius the son of a Godess, together they marched against the God of Cranes, they won but somethings were lost as well... The second book in the series introduced us to Pen Parva and the magnificent city of London-Under-Glass, the mirror image of our own London. This alone will leave you agape, but the story that Tom Pollock writes around this mirror image of London is very powerful and readily transformed the whole premise of the series. It will make you look different towards a lot of things, this mirrorstocracy that was introduced was on many fronts beautiful but also sinister and very dark. 

The first thing that fall to note when you start reading Our Lady of the Street is the self assurance with which Tom Pollock writes his conclusion. He has delivered two already stunning books but when you compare The City's Son with Our Lady of the Streets you can clearly see that this last book is written with a lot more confidence, Tom Pollock is definitely in control. I was a fan from the first book but with Our Lady of the Streets and reflecting on the whole series as well, Tom Pollock hasn't only let his story continue to grow but also let him as an author grow. From the first pages you feel the book is already gearing up to many unavoidable confrontations between several mighty players that we have gotten to learn about in the first two books. It's really cool stuff and there aren't and expanses saved in letting everything go down the way it does.

And now the EPIC conclusion of The Skyscraper Throne in Our Lady of the Streets. The story picks up a few months after the events of The Glass Republic. Mater Viae has returned from the mirror city of London-Under-Glass and is determined to get back what belongs to her. Her city of London. She doesn't do this in a subtle way but by force making parts of London die and get lost in the progress. Beth, who inherited some powers of Fil is the only person able to connect with London in a special kind of way to stop Mater Viae plans from succeeding. Our Lady of the Streets isn't only about Beth, Pen also makes an important appearance. This is a prime example of letting two stories collide to create a much bigger one. Where the first two books showed more off either of the two characters the first book on Beth and the second on Pen, in this final one they get equal stage time. This really is the premise of the story both girls work together to stop Mater Viae from succeeding in taking over London and expanding her power even further, yes this is the ultimate goal of Mater Viae, if she is able to reach into other cities what kind of havoc could that cause. But will both Beth and Pen be able to succeed? Because a lot of things have happened and with Beth's new powers, her connection to the city and being able to draw strength from the city also draws in the corruption that Mater Viae is spreading. Yes, Beth is dying, and cannot be cured... There is only one option left and that is to round-up every other force available to fight of Mater Viae, Beth even has to go so far as to awaken some enemies...

I am very impressed with the story that Tom Pollock once again has put unto paper. The first two books put a smile on my face but Our Lady of the Streets does it twice over and I am still recalling every scene in the book, there are some pretty great displays of the strength that is inhabited in many of the different powers of the city. Furthermore what really suprised me was the ending of the story. You all hope that everything turns out for the better for everyone, well it doesn't. This isn't a all ends well kind of story. Giving this reality that some people just can't be saved creates a very emotional, powerful and beautiful ending, that I think no one had dared to dream about. 

One thing that I do have to keep stressing with Tom Pollock's books is the world building. It really is one-of-a-kind. Of course we have seen gods in Urban Fantasy before but nothing in the way that Tom Pollock interprets this trope. Gods that inhabit machine or that are embodied in the Thames for example and lets not forget Mater Viae herself. The descriptions that are used in showing just what the world of The Skyscraper Throne is about paints a very beautiful and vivid picture but you are also reminded that not everything shines as brilliant, there is also a very dark tone to the story that comes to the front mainly in the weird creatures that inhabit the streets of London. Like the Blankeits, Railwraits, Bahngeists, The Chemical Synods, Pavement Priests and Sodiumites and many many more.  But do not automatically that everyone is against Beth and Pen, they have alleys amongst these as well. I am a big fan of these creatures that Tom Pollock has created, they really add a great view upon his world. They aren't names to name a creature but in describing them they live and breath the urban London surrounding, Pavement Priests "melt" into the pavements and move about Blankeits live in the city's lights and Bahngheits are trains that walk. This also counts for the transformations of Pen and Beth. They are no longer human and in stead of using the human references, Beth is described as part of the city with her concrete skin, leaking oil and many more references, this really inspires a very cool setting to the story.

Our Lady of the Streets is a pitch perfect ending to a brilliant series. The third book lets everything that was proposed in the first two books collide in a heavy way. Giving this time not a strong focus on either Beth or Pen but putting both in the spotlight. THere is only one thing left for them and that is stopping Mater Viae from ripping apart London and if she succeeds the rest of the world. Bam! Who would have dared to guess this would be the ending of the story? When I read the first book I hadn't dared to think that the story would end this way. Tom Pollock's vision of an Urban Fantasy London is a unique setting and not many authors have managed to grip with their series as The Skyscraper Throne has. The wide imagination that Tom Pollock has comes back in the creatures that he uses to inhabit his world and though they are far from normal, their are weird and not at all mainstream, you won't put them off as a simple imaginary beings, you will be taking these creatures deadly serious, Tom Pollock's writing style will make sure you do this from the first introduction. With The Skyscraper Throne Tom Pollock has created an exceptional and remarkable, action-packed series and it turned out to be quite the emotional rollercoaster as well. I will be definitely be keeping a close eye on the next project that Tom Pollock will write about next. If this is his debut series, I wanna see what else he can do!

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