Book Review by Mel: City of Betrayal, by Claudie Arseneault

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city of betrayal claudie arseneault

City of Betrayal, by Claudie Arseneault
Series: City of Spires, Book Two
Publisher: The Kraken Collective
Release Date: October 22, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


The whole city is searching for Hasryan—some for revenge and justice, others to save their friends. Yet no one knows where to find him except Lord Arathiel Brasten, who vanished 130 years ago only to +magically return.

Lord Diel Dathirii’s struggle to free his city from the neighbouring imperialistic enclave is far from over. Enemies gather around him, and without allies in Isandor’s upper spheres, he must place his fate in Lower City residents. Little does he know, the city he’s trying to save might well save him in return.

City of Betrayal is the second installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, elves and magic, and strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.


Multiple Character Cast
Lesbian Character
Gay Character
Bisexual/Pansexual Character
Transgender Character
Nonbinary Character
Asexual Character
Aromantic Character
Characters of Colour
High Fantasy

Content Warnings for:

Review by Mel

City of Betrayal was just as great as City of Strife, the first instalment in a fantasy series that masterfully combines a tale of city life, with its politics, merchants, and assassins, with the danger of an evil outer force, namely, an evil sorcerer who’s settled outside of Isandor within a hostile enclave of a foreign empire.

The characters we met in the first book continue to tell us the story through their different point of views and I was happy to be back with them. I like so many of them so much, even one of the rather hard to like ones grew on me and I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what else Yultes has in store for us. However, I quite struggled with Larryn because he is such a douchebag and behaves impossibly. I am not as forgiving as his friends and the other characters in the book are. Just so you know, Larryn. You better make up for all this crap in the next book!

I am still amazed at how the author manages to bring so many different characters alive on the page, without it getting too much or confusing, and that nearly all of them are queer, people of colour, disabled, or marginalised in other ways. It’s pure joy!

With a little over 400 pages, the book is longer than I prefer and while I noticed the length, it wasn’t boring or an ordeal to get through it. I loved spending time with my friends and especially the second half of the book is fast-paced and suspenseful. I think, though, that the changes in the point of views could have been smoother because there was too much retelling of what had already happened. Even one or two pages of the story through another perspective was too much for me and could have easily been forgone.

There are glimpses of romance and relationships of different people and I would love to see more of this. I’d love to see what is going on between Hasryan and Branwen. I’m also intrigued by Sora and Hasryan and can imagine them becoming friends or more. The sweetest thing, though, are Vellien and Nevian. It’s so endearing how this unlikely and innocent pair is slowly opening up to each other. What Diel and Jaeger have, on the other hand, is simply wonderful and I hope they will have many more years together. Which reminds me 😀 I wonder which role Arathiel will play in this, heh.

Enough of love, though, since this book is mostly about intrigue, sticking together, and doing the right thing in times of challenge and beyond. The reader is confronted with questions of what privilege looks like and at what cost it comes. That was really well done and this book shines through the beautiful relationships of all kinds of people standing up for each other.

This book does not end on a major cliffhanger but rather leaves us at a quite satisfactory point in the story. I really want to know what is going to happen next, though. There are many things still left to do…

Let the next book come out quickly. Recommended!


Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Quebec City. Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders. The start of her most recent series, City of Strife, came out on February 22, 2017! Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!

You can purchase City of Revenge from:

Gumroad (direct from the author):

Or add it to Goodreads

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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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