(Received from Netgalley for review.)
This is quite different from anything I’ve read by Hicks before. She’s also done contemporary stories with female protagonists, and The Nameless City is set in a vaguely Asian (maybe Chinese inspired?) fictional city with a male viewpoint character. Like I said, different, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But I’ve really liked everything of hers that I’ve ever read, and this was absolutely no exception.
The title city is nameless to the inhabitants, named only by the many conquerors who cycle through. Currently, those rulers are the Dao, who generally treat the natives of the city as subhuman. The story is about the slowly growing friendship between Kaidu, a Dao boy who’s come to the city for military training, and Rat, a girl who’s native to the city. That’s the bones of the story, but what Hicks builds around it is really engaging. Partly because Kaidu and Rat bond as she teaches him parkour and he sneaks her food. And the characters themselves are very likable, Kaidu instantly and Rat a little more gradually so.
The art feels a bit rougher than I’m used to from Hicks. No less good, of course, and it feels more like a stylistic choice than a lack of effort. Not sure if it’s my favorite of her art, but I do like it.
This is apparently going to be a series, which is good. I got really interested in this world, and there are some intentionally unanswered questions left at the end. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this.