The City in the Blue Mountains by Josephine Miller
Genre – Fantasy
About the Book – There is a city in the blue mountains
“The City in the Blue Mountains follows Tin, a young woman who has spent much of her youth traveling and on the run. Following dark events, Tin finds herself in a miraculous city surrounded by blue mountains. The inhabitants of the city are just as miraculous with large feathered wings and powerful blue fire. Tin’s own hidden power awakens, a powerful yellow light, forcing her to confront her past and learn to control her abilities. All the while Tin struggles to navigate a budding romance, new friendships and a looming war.” – Publisher’s Blurb
The Review – We Like Tin…
Katinia is a young woman with hidden powers. Honestly, though not a spoiler, that explains much of the story. We’re sorry. Now, we really do like Tin, but that is the kindest thing we can say about this book. We read it. We wanted to like it. Unfortunately, Miss Miller fell into a trap that many new authors do, the trap of first-person present tense.
Now, the story, while not incredibly original, would have been quite enjoyable in first-person past tense, or even the more traditional third-person limited. This can serve as a lesson to us all, presentation is just as important, if not more so, than substance. The greatest stories can be ruined by poor presentation, and mediocre stories can be elevated if presented flawlessly. Sadly, our experience was marred by the grating use of present tense, but we will try to move past that for a moment and discuss other aspects of the novel.
The story is pretty standard fare. Tin is different and on the run. She discovers a strange place and learns she has special powers. We realize that most stories sound poor when broken down enough, but the fact we could do this so easily is concerning.
About Present Tense – The City in the Blue Mountains
We feel like we have done this before, but we will do it again. To quote a famous professor, there is a time and a place for everything. Present tense has its usage (reviews maybe?), however it is tricky to pull off in fiction writing. We won’t say impossible, we’re sure there is a splendid example somewhere, but you won’t find that here.
Perhaps there is a certain allure. Watch as the story unfolds before your eyes. Maybe there is a cinematic appeal. We can’t say for sure. Whatever the case, it is jarring. For this novel, it works when Tin is describing her feelings, but feels forced and unnatural as she goes over sequences of events. As well, what is gained from her sort of flow-of-consciousness exploration of her mind is lost as she attempts to narrate more mundane activities, and can be downright confusing as the action picks up.
The Rating – C –
Stylistically confused, the writing and world building is promising. The City in the Blue Mountains is a mixed bag. There characters are likeable enough, but the unfortunate use of present tense mars anything good we may have found. Now, if you are one of those readers who doesn’t mind present tense, this book may just be for you. Sadly, it won’t be making its way into our coveted shelf space.
Do you want to read The City in the Blue Mountains? You can find it here.