Book Review: “City of Halves” by Lucy Inglis

Lily is not your average teenager – at sixteen years old, she’s already a first class computer hacker, and uses her skills to help her father, a lawyer, solve his toughest cases. But that still doesn’t prepare her for what she discovers one morning while out investigating a case: magic is real. Unfortunately, she finds this out in the worst way possible, by being attacked by a bandogge, a terrifying two-headed dog. She would have died except for Regan, a very attractive boy who manages to use magic to save her. Although Regan and Lily are guarded with each other at first, they soon discover they’ll have to work together to find out who’s kidnapping girls around London – and putting the entire magical realm at risk.

Although I felt that City of Halves launched rather awkwardly – it was a little disorienting to have a character I’m not even sure if I like yet almost die within the first ten pages – I soon found myself enjoying the ride. Lily is a lot of fun as a heroine who can code circles around everyone she knows, and her foolhardy refusal to stay put and stay safe endeared her to me. Regan is a bit more flat, personality-wise, mostly serving as a relay of information about the magical world, but I found that I was so interested in what Lily was doing that I didn’t mind.

Other standout elements of City of Halves are Lily’s relationship with her father and Regan’s ghostly foster parents. Lily’s father shows concern for his daughter, but defies the typical urban YA fantasy trope of forbidding his daughter leave the house. He tries (and often fails) to understand what she’s going through, but he truly trusts his daughter, which was refreshing. Regan’s adoptive family are the ghosts Lucas and Elijah, who died in a London fire 300 years ago, and they are adorably stuck in their old ways. What can I say? I’m a sucker for any character that loves old books as much as I do.

A historian, Inglis vividly depicts her hometown of London as Lily and Regan traverse across the city – it’ll make you want to go there (as if you didn’t already). City of Halves moves fast, jamming a lot of events into its 357 pages. At times this made it a little difficult to remember a clear timeline – I’d find myself trying to go back and revisit a certain scene, only to find that I couldn’t remember if it had happened before or after another one. I think this is likely a result of Inglis stuffing her universe jam-packed full of interesting characters and mythology. Although there is no projected release date for a sequel, Inglis has indicated that she’s not quite done with Lily and Regan, so I’m sure that world building will serve her well in later novels!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.