Published by Bantam on July 1, 2014
Genres: Magical Realism, Social Issues, Thriller
The city changed my life and showed me that the world is deeply mysterious. I need to tell you about her and some terrible things and wonderful things and amazing things that happened . . . and how I am still haunted by them. Including one night when I died and woke and lived again.
Here is the riveting, soul-stirring story of Jonah Kirk, son of an exceptional singer, grandson of a formidable “piano man,” a musical prodigy beginning to explore his own gifts when he crosses a group of extremely dangerous people, with shattering consequences. Set in a more innocent time not so long ago, The City encompasses a lifetime but unfolds over three extraordinary, heart-racing years of tribulation and triumph, in which Jonah first grasps the electrifying power of music and art, of enduring friendship, of everyday heroes.
The unforgettable saga of a young man coming of age within a remarkable family, and a shimmering portrait of the world that shaped him, The City is a novel that speaks to everyone, a dazzling realization of the evergreen dreams we all share. Brilliantly illumined by magic dark and light, it’s a place where enchantment and malice entwine, courage and honor are found in the most unexpected quarters, and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.
Welcome to my new feature Up Late With Kate where I share the latest midnight read that keeps me reading past the witching hour! Light that candle, grab a chair, and prepare to read all night!
I’ve said this in the past, but Dean Koontz is a hit or miss author for me. Some of his books are among my very favorites, and Odd Thomas holds one of the very tip top spots in my heart. But sometimes he writes books that I just dislike (ahem, My Heart Belongs To You).
The City definitely falls into the Odd Thomas side of Koontz books I love. In fact, I bet Jonah share’s some DNA with characters like Odd, or Addison from Innoncence.
Set in the 60’s, against the backdrop of the vietnam war, riots, serial killings, mass murders, racial tension, and a country rapidly losing its innocence, 9 year old Jonah is battling with some of his deep secrets.
Jonah, like my Odd one, is a wonderful, decent and kind boy. He comes from a family that are as talented as they are caring and dignified. With one very big exception, Jonah’s father Tildon. Tildon is more than just a lazy, cheating, good for nothing jackwagon- he’s possibly dangerous.
The city personified, literally, Miss Pearl visits Jonah with a gift and a vision. Despite his young age, Jonah does the best he can to deal with the information he’s given. Koontz has fondness of wise-beyond-their-years children (and magical dogs), and Jonah is all that and more. Although with the family he has, the times in which he’s living, it makes sense that Jonah wouldn’t be your average kid. The kid has more gumption and sense of duty in one tiny finger than I have in my whole body. I kind of love him.
Along the way, Jonah finds friends and allies, because in fiction as in life, we all get by with a little help from our friends. His relationships with them, especially Mr. Otamki, were my favorite parts of the book. I wish the characters in Koontz’s books populated my neighborhood, because I would totally bring back the block party tradition. Plus, America would just be a better place.
There is a lot of mystery and tension in this book, and I was sick with dread at times, worried for both Jonah and those helping him. And although I thought I was prepared for a particular character’s death, I still cried like a baby when it happened (don’t worry, I was reading on my Kindle, so no damage was done).
Koontz, like Jonah, is a romantic optimist at heart. Bad things happen, grief can overwhelm, evil people can seek to break our hearts, but there is always hope. Always a sense that if we believe, if we try, the world can be a beautiful place to live. And while I can be dark, sarcastic and morbid, daunted by the easy cruelty of society, in my heart of hearts, I’m a believer. And I choose to believe in the Jonah-all-middle-names-Kirk’s of the world. 🙂
The City gets a Midnight Book Rating of: