Diamond City: An Assassin Story That Hooked Me!

4.5/5 Stars

Author: Francesca Flores

Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books

Edition: Hardcover, 392 Pages

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!


*Thank you to the publisher for providing an e-ARC via NetGalley. Although I received an e-ARC, this review is based on the finished hardcover edition due to technical difficulties with the e-pub file. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

‘Even if a lion dresses in silk, it will always be a lion.’

Francesca Flores, Diamond City

Initial Thoughts

Wow! What a blast! Diamond City is Francesca Flores’s debut novel, and it was SO entertaining to read! Was it perfect? No. But it kept me hooked all the way through, which is exactly what I wanted.

This is an assassin story that actually delivers on what it promises: action, assassins, blood, and diamonds. The prologue jumps right into the action and grabbed my attention immediately! I was desperate to learn more about Aina, the main female character, and what drove her to become an assassin.

The setting/world-building in this novel is refreshingly unique in my opinion. It is a gritty, industrialized fantasy world that also has a bit of a dystopian feel. The descriptions of the world sucked me in and largely contribute to the mood of the story as well. The people who are at the top of the social ladder are called Steels. A group called the Diamond Guards is essentially the police force under the authority of the city’s oligarchy. Inosen are the people (often from the lower classes) who believe in magic and worship two goddesses. The Steels often persecute the Inosen due to a civil war that resulted from a clash between industrialization and religion.

I liked that the author explores the themes of poverty and toxic relationships in this novel. I think she does a good job painting a picture of Aina’s struggles. Aina struggles with a lot under the surface of her fierce exterior.

The pacing is overall done very well. Diamond City is fast-paced and absolutely action-packed! I wasn’t ever too bored or disinterested. There was always something exciting happening that pulled me through the story. There are wolf-sized spiders and daring prison breakouts! At the end of each chapter, I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next! But sometimes I had to stop reading to get some sleep 😀

If she was good at anything, it was survival, and she refused to let anyone take that away from her.

Francesca Flores, Diamond City

Characters & Romance

Here is a brief overview of some of the characters and the romance(s). I really appreciated that the author created characters with real flaws, which made the people seem more real and relatable.

  • Image 2-20-20 at 10.55 AM (1)Aina is, of course, our main female assassin. She struggles with a lot of internal conflict due to her traumatic past, as well as some decisions that she currently she faces. When she was a child, her parents were murdered before her eyes, yet she herself regularly takes human lives. Will she go through with her current assignment? And what happens when that assignment goes horribly awry? Maybe Aina isn’t a perfect human being, but she undergoes a good character arc throughout the story.
  • Kohl Pavel is Aina’s boss, the Blood King. He finds her when she is a young orphan and gives her a place to stay if she agrees to become an assassin. He trains her well, but perhaps doesn’t have her best interests at heart.
  • Teo is Aina’s good friend. He, too, is an assassin. But unlike Aina, he is his own boss and chooses which marks to take out. He only kills in order to make a living for his sickly mother. He is willing to do almost anything for Aina, and his loyalty is so endearing!
  • Ryuu is a rich Steel and the brother of Aina’s most important assignment. Aina’s path becomes tangled with his in a way she doesn’t expect. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
  • One other thing to mention is Aina’s potential romance(s). Aina’s relationships get COMPLICATED. Aina has at least three – and maybe a fourth – potential love-interests, which is kind of a lot. I usually prefer when there is only one or two love-interests to keep track of. It seems like she sort of feels attracted to all of them, but isn’t really sure. Aina doesn’t choose at the end of this book, but maybe she will choose in the sequel.

‘You still have a chance to do good in the world, Aina. You’re not a lost cause.’

Francesca Flores, Diamond City

Final Thoughts

A few scenes here and there may feel slightly rushed due to the action-driven writing style, but I really enjoyed the action. It kept me at the edge of my seat! Sometimes, I didn’t feel the emotional connections between characters as much as I wanted to. But overall, I’m rating this book highly for how entertaining it is! Happy reading 🙂

*Content warnings: Intentional self-harm (blood magic + glue/drug addiction); LOTS of action violence, blood, gore, knife and gun fights, etc.*

Copyright © 2020 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

Up Next on My TBR: All the Stars and Teeth + The Sound of Stars

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