City of Storms

Nightmarked Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
504 Pages
Reviewed on 02/13/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

City of Storms is a work of fiction in the fantasy adventure subgenre and was penned by author Kat Ross. As the opening novel to the Nightmarked series, the work is suitable for the mature reading audience due to mild sexual scenes and some explicit language. In this fascinating high-concept fantasy dystopian drama, we find ourselves under the rule of the Via Sancta, who have found a way to suppress the darkest urges of mankind by making Marks on people’s skin. But some of those Marks are inverting, turning their owners mad with rage, greed, and hate, and it’s up to protagonist and priest Alexei Bryce to hunt them down.

There was so much story to devour in City of Storms, and I loved every second of author Kat Ross’s intense worldbuilding. Ross has crafted a masterpiece of magical fantasy which mixes its unique concepts into the darkest psychology of the human mind and its most base physical desires and emotions. Alexei and Kasia make for an exciting duo at the center of the plot, with sharp dialogue and interesting backstories that give them layers of light and shade. For me, Malach and his enormous corruptive influence was a stellar piece of creativity, one which cast a long shadow of despair, desire, damnation, and danger over the novel and kept the suspense amped up throughout. Combine this with the ambiance and atmosphere of the language used to bring each scene and character to life, and what you get is a perfectly formed fantasy adventure with action, excitement, and darkness in all the right places. Overall, I would highly recommend City of Storms to fantasy fans everywhere as an unmissable and original read.

Samantha Gregory

City of Storms (Nightmarked Book 1) by Kat Ross is set in an alternate world where people are being controlled by using special marks on their skin to suppress their negative emotions like anger and hate. However, in some people, these marks are becoming inverted, which is driving them mad. A priest named Alexei Bryce is investigating why this is happening, and he teams up with Kasia, a tarot reader. They work together to uncover the mystery. Kasia is in danger herself, and it looks like she and Alexei were destined to meet.

The story moves at a good pace, and I liked the idea of a priest and a woman working together from the wrong side of the tracks. I thought it added a good balance to the story, and it was fun to read their interactions. It was interesting to read the rules of the world too. Kat Ross has created an interesting world with City of Storms (Nightmarked Book 1). The characters are well developed, and the story kept me reading to find out what happens next. Though it takes a little while to get into it, the characters really come to life once you do. Perhaps a little backstory to the world could help readers get into it a little sooner. I have read other books by this author, and I do enjoy her work. I think this book would suit readers of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction, and possibly epic fantasy too. I would definitely recommend it.

Asher Syed

City of Storms by Kat Ross is the first book in this seasoned author's ambitious visionary and dark high fantasy fiction series, Nightmarked. In the urban metropolis of Novostopol, two individuals momentarily find themselves crossing paths for the first time. Fra Alexei Bryce, a priest and huntsman for the Interfectorum, a mystical body reminiscent of the Spanish inquisition, and Kasia Novak, a gifted cartomancer embroiled in the aftermath, witnessed a 'Turning.' The people of Novostopol carry the Mark, which occasionally initiated a Turning. Those unfortunate enough to Turn fall into an abyss of madness, and Bryce and his Markhounds take them down. As the relationship between Novak and Bryce rises, so too does a dark force long thought to be under control.

Kat Ross weaves an intriguing plot around a variety of perfectly developed characters in City of Storms. The commitment a reader must make when taking on an entirely new world is often done with a lot of reservation. Names, events, landscape/world-building, and a ton of backstory need to be executed with a balance of restraint but still have the momentum to keep the pages turning. Ross proves to be exceptional at this. Enjoying an omniscient point of view with alternating characters helps with this, but it is the authenticity of these characters and the tension on each page that makes this series debut a winner. Small details, like Fra Bryce's complicated relationship with his father and the fragility of Kasia's role, should her secret be discovered, are what bring the story to life. Very highly recommended.

Stephanie Chapman

Something sinister is stirring, and Priest Alexei Bryce knows it. Cartomancer Kasia Novak feels it. In City of Storms: Nightmarked, Kat Ross introduces a dark world where the power of the Ley is the most important aspect for all people. Marks bestowed by mages gave each person the ability to enhance their natural talents. Once marked, they had to wear gloves to prevent accidental use of the Ley. Kasia is at Dr. Ferran Massot’s home to pick up a message for the Cardinal when Massot requests a reading from her tarot cards. As she is preparing to read the cards, Massot suddenly becomes violent. Priest Bryce and his partner Patryk Spassov are alerted to the Markhounds howling. Being members of the Interfectorem, they are led to Massot’s home to detain him. While examining a sedated Invertido, Bryce notices that Massot is NIghtmarked. This means Malach, an evil nightmage, is close, and Bryce has to catch him.

City of Storms: Nightmarked is a fantasy story that delves deep into a world with a lot of deception. I found it hard to pick who was good and who was bad. Kat Ross’s detailed description of the scenery effectively conveyed a world in turmoil. Bryce’s inner conflict, coupled with flashbacks to his past, enhanced the struggle he had with keeping his feelings from showing. I connected with an outcast supporting character, Nikola Thorn. Nikola was genuinely kind, despite trying to put up a defensive wall to prevent being hurt. A constant sense of espionage haunts the multiple characters. The suspense never dissipates, and I could feel the impending danger that was hinted at the end. I found the glossary at the end of the book very insightful, and it helped with understanding some of the mentioned people who didn’t appear yet but will possibly be part of future books. I recommend City of Storms to readers that enjoy fantasy stories with a slow burn of suspense.

Vincent Dublado

As the first installment in the Nightmarked Book Series, City of Storms by Kat Ross takes off with fast-paced action. It starts with Fra Alexei Bryce, a priest-cum-hunter who wakes up to the baying of Markhounds signaling that a citizen is descending into madness. The city of Via Sancta has allegedly triumphed over quelling man’s basest instincts by containing them on intricate skin marks, but every now and then, citizens experience inversions. The Curia refers to it as Invertido. Scholars call it the Shadow, or the Dark Wound. Alexei discovers a conspiracy in the highest levels of Via Sancta after responding to a doctor’s inversion. This leads him to an encounter with Kasia Novak, a tarot reader who has her own dark secret. A Pontifex is dead, and the machinery of justice will launch its full force. As an Unmarked cartomancer, Kasia has ties to a Nightmage who has supposedly done the foul deed. As the Nightmage infiltrates the city, Alexei will discover that the human soul is highly vulnerable to corruption.

City of Storms is a rousing adventure, a skillful fusion of history, fantasy, and religion. It contains word paintings with arresting beauty and a three-dimensional character that is torn between duty and loyalty. Against the backdrop of this make-believe world, you find depth in the characters, each gifted with specific attributes that define their motivations. In reading her tarot cards, Kasia often pulls out The Lovers from her deck and this seems to show that her fate and Alexei's are intertwined. Kat Ross writes with panache and style, using appropriate language that will not make you feel lost because it is well-supported by context. This is an intelligent high-adventure fantasy that I definitely recommend for its unique twists, turns, and brilliant storyline.