Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Retro, Steampunk

Want a Retro Fantasy about magic and mythology? The Breedling And The City In The Garden by Kimberlee Ann Bastian

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★★★✬☆  3.5 stars

“So, writer, what sort of tale will you tell me tonight?”

“Well, reader, get yourself some strong tea and a nightlight, because I have a warm retro tale about street urchins in the 1930’s and… magic.”

“My my, writer, that sure sounds swell!”

“Brace yourself, reader, it truly is, even despite the somewhat cheesy dialogue.”

Okay. So you might be wondering why I’m starting the review like that. I just wanted to give you a taste of the dialogues in this book. But really, apart from the slightly weird tone and the fact that everyone uses everyone’s name in, like, every sentence, the book was good! It was that warm mixture of sepia photos, old coke ads, Chicago orphanages in the 30’s, smart-aleck minority gangsters in pinstripe suits and immortal magical cats that change face color when they feel emotions. And hey, with all that vintage feel going on, maybe even the dialogue makes sense? We can all think of that tone of voice in a mock-pre-war radio ad.

So the story goes something like this. Bartholomew is an ageless being, made for god knows what, downcast from god knows where (not in a bad way, though.)

Really, the mythology in this book is quite complicated, but done quite well. It comes across like American Gods – loads of different things, the pantheon and the rules of the world vast and mighty, but somehow still connected with the thing here or there you might have heard it, perhaps in an old Irish nursery tale. Yes, it is complicated, but it makes you feel like this isn’t the end and you’ll find out more in the coming books. Which is all fine.

Another thing I found truly refreshing was that our two main characters are young boys – teens, but not YA teens (I mean the tone). They are not girls (95% of the books right now seem to be about girls. It’s good that we’re reversing history, but… you know. I haven’t read about boys in soooooo long!). They are also not grown women, nor are they grown men or superheroes. They are two lost orphan boys, not too special, just shabby, and I like reading about that. It was something I’ve forgotten people wrote about! (Is it just me..?)

The story does fumble sometimes, sometimes it drags. The immortal being is clearly denser than you and me, because he can’t see through things we can clearly see are going to happen in the story. The gangsters and thugs happen to unluckily be of my nationality, but hey. These flaws are mostly debut-related (apart from the gangsters, of course) and they don’t get in the way of enjoying your reading experience. This is a quick good fantasy, moreover – a strong start to a series. Which is why I know that I’ll be looking forward to the sequel as soon as it shows up. And if you’re a fantasy fan, especially retro – go for it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

My thanks to W.I. Creative Publishing and NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Have you heard of The Breedling? And have you also missed books with boys as protagonists? Do you like retro reads?

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Kimberlee A Bastian
Kimberlee A Bastian
4 years ago

Evelina, thank you kindly for the review! I am delighted you found the story refreshing. Book Two is on its final edit! 🙂 Kimberlee Ann Bastian

H.P.
4 years ago

I’m a sucker for a book with a voice that evokes the appropriate era.

Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

Oh no, I have to admit, it kind of really aggravates me when people use each others’ names or relations in every sentence. I get especially annoyed when characters are like, “Thank you, uncle.” “Are you having a good day, brother?” “How are you feeling, lover?” “What did you do today, friend?” Just—no! Nobody talks like that! But other than that, this does sound pretty cool 🙂

Laura Thomas
4 years ago

I can deal with cheesy dialogue. Might even expect with the two main characters being boys. Glad you enjoyed this one. I got is some time ago and it’s nearing the top of my list to be read.

Nathan (@reviewbarn)
4 years ago

Bad dialog is a turn off for me. But I do love books with gods. So this is a maybe.

verushka
verushka
4 years ago

What an unusual book this is! Despite it’s flaws, I’m curious enough about it to give it a go, I think.

Jackie B.
4 years ago

This is a new book to me. I’m glad to see your review! I am on the fence about historical magical realism/fantasy myself. I am always drawn to these sorts of books, but I am almost *consistently* betrayed. I guess that’s because nothing will ever hold up to The Night Circus. 😉 I haven’t heard of this book before, but it sounds up my alley. I’m soooo glad to see male protagonists! Particularly ones who aren’t buff 18-year-old hunks. Ugh. I’m so over that. I am definitely drawn to this novel, but your comment about pacing makes me a bit… Read more »

Jackie B.
4 years ago

You should read The Night Circus. It’s one of my favoritest books of all time. You’re welcome to dislike it, but I think you might enjoy it… 🙂

We always take a risk with a debut novel. I am not nearly as brave as you are; I don’t read debuts that often. Pacing, characters, plot– these could all be forfeit! We never know! I’ll keep an eye on this author and see how the next book does. I am always willing to wait. 😉

Di @ Book Reviews by Di

I hear you on the female protags at the moment, although I still can’t get enough of strong, badass females it’s refreshing to get a male POV sometimes!

I’m a huge fantasy fan, so I might have to look into this one more!! It looks super interesting. 🙂 This is the first that it’s popped up on my radar.

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

yup I’m craving more boys as MCs to! I wish I was a seasoned writer already and I could write from a boy’s perspective. I’m not there. YET 😉

Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

oh… male writers writing female characters is…interesting! LOL coincidentally my next post talks about that 😉 I went to add the Girl With All The Gifts and it was already on my TBR! It says “perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.” SO WOOOOOOW I just put it on the “reading next” shelf! thanks for the recommendation! Aww thx for asking about my writing! So… my first WIP is a dark urban fantasy/apocalyptic that spans from the end of WWII 1945 to 2020 and includes locations around the world like Spain and the Amazon but it’s… Read more »

Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers.
Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers.
4 years ago

I love how you started the review 😛 😛 But boy that would be tiring to read! People repeating names and relations in every sentence; like guys we’re not gonna forget you are his cousin or she’s your mom or she’s your once removed cousin? 😛 But the story itself sounds wonderful except for the draggy parts! I love mythology in books <3

Also is it just me, or has this style of cover and title font been used in any other book? it just feels really familiar 🙂 And great great review 😀

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[…] mentioned, I have posted two reviews this week. The Breedling And The City In The Garden is a retro fantasy based in a pre-war Chicago (think gangsters, orphans and magic) and Shift is the […]

La La in the Library
4 years ago

This sounds fabulous to me. Thanks for sharing your review! I have added it to Goodreads. 🙂

Jorie
4 years ago

Hallo, Hallo Avalinah! 🙂 I’m glad you liked reading this one! I read it last December during a period in my life where I wasn’t sure I could attach myself into epic worlds of Fantasy such as the genre-bender Ms Bastian created for us to entreat inside. I also hosted her for a guest author feature & was quite taken by how she captured her world + the structure of how it was free to be it’s own uniqueness in the open dimension of Fiction. There were a few things I remember I didn’t fancy about it — but ooh.… Read more »

Brian Joseph
4 years ago

Great review.

This looks very good and very different. It is generally a very good thing when an author bucks trends. There are way too many books that are formulaic these days.

I tend to lick books with complicated mythologies or backgrounds. When well done it adds to the fun for me.

I love this book’s cover too.

Kimberlee A Bastian
Kimberlee A Bastian
4 years ago

Evelina! What an incredible conversation. Just to note, I am certainly stock piling the critics so I can make things even better for Book Two, especially as the mythology of the story unfolds. It’s off the Proofreader as I type this message, so the waiting won’t be too much longer! 🙂 Thank you again for the “love” and spreading the word! KAB

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[…] awesome, which is that Kimberlee Ann Bastian will be having a blog tour for the sequel of The Breedling and the City in the Garden and I’m invited to participate in […]

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[…] Element Oddyseys, and if you haven’t heard of it yet – read the review of book one, The Breedling and the City in the Garden, here. Set in the Prohibition era and having boys as the main characters, it strikes you as quite a […]