The Golden City is the first in a series written by J. Kathleen Cheney. It follows the story of Oriana Paredes, a sereia (a mermaid/siren-like creature) who is a spy living among humans in a Portuguese port city. When she and her human friend and employer, Lady Isabel, are kidnapped and left for dead, Oriana only escapes due to her merfolk nature. Lady Isabel is not so lucky. Vowing vengeance, Oriana eventually teams up with Duilio Ferreira, a dashing police consultant, and together they try to solve the mystery of who killed Isabel and why so many of the city’s servants have gone missing.
Cheney’s world is of magic and mystical creatures. Along with the sereia, there are witches, selkies, and more. Necromancy and espionage are interwoven in this interestingly unique story. It has so much potential, and some of the scenes are beautifully set. The whole concept is intriguing. Unfortunately, there are problems. You could drive a bus, or in this case a ship, through some of the plot holes. And there are situations in the story that make absolutely no sense—especially towards the end when multiple innocents die for a reason that’s feasible at best.
I wanted this story to be so much more. While I didn’t dislike it, I couldn’t fall in love with it. The magic and the unique story just weren’t enough to compensate for the lack of solid plot editing. It’s worth a read, but not worth remembering and didn’t tickle my fancy enough for me to pick up any more in the series.