Meadowcity (Arcera #1) by Liz Delton - SPFBO 2020 Book Review

Meadowcity (Arcera #1) by Liz Delton - SPFBO 2020 Book Review

Write on: Fri, 24 Jul 2020 by  in SPFBO 2020 Read 3088

For my third SPFBO 2020 book review for BookNest, I review Liz Delton's Meadowcity.

What It’s About:

The four cities of Arcera – Meadowcity, Skycity, Riftcity, and Lightcity – have maintained relative peace for centuries. Each unique city has managed to thrive on its own – with the occasional inter-city exchange – thanks in part to a skilled trade specific to its geography. However, all of this changes as Sorin Greyling, governor of Skycity – in his never-ending and destructive search for knowledge – thrusts the other cities into a war that no one wants, and seemingly no one can prevent.

What I Liked:

The world of Arcera – particularly the four cities – is an exceptionally cool concept. The distinctive lands and governance; the economies fueled by their locations and the ingenuity of their citizens; and the idea that each is self-sustaining – and has been for hundreds of years – makes for a fascinating world just rife with conflict waiting to happen.

Dual narratives enhance the story, but are presented with a twist! And no, I can’t tell you what the twist is, but I will say that when I discovered it, my eyes widened, jaw dropped, and I exclaimed, “Wow! That was good!” The part of the dual storyline that really had me hooked was that of Sorin Greyling’s point of view. Without giving too much away, it is easy to see Sorin as a dastardly villain; however, his tale is complex and multi-layered. He’s the type of villain I love to read about because he has motives that aren’t typical and his life exudes depth. 

What Didn’t Do It For Me:

Meadowcity is a slow burn. Much of the novel, particularly during Sylvia’s point of view, revolves around traveling, contemplating, and exposition whilst figuring out what in the heck is actually going on within the four cities. I usually like my fantasy to have a good balance between character development, mystery and/or threat, and suspense/action. While there was great character development with Sorin, and the mystery of the reason for war is prevalent throughout the novel, the threat did not seem too urgent and there weren’t too many suspenseful moments until what seemed like halfway through Meadowcity.  As far as threat goes, this is a tough one, as it is synonymous with Sorin. I liked Sorin quite a bit, but he didn’t feel too dangerous until the end of the book.

The mark of a good protagonist includes the changes they go through, and the lessons they learn from said changes. Sylvia, as a point of view character, doesn’t seem to change much. She’s certainly contemplative, but it’s mostly all in regards to what is happening and why it’s happening. I spent most of my time reading feeling like I didn’t really get to know her, other than her occupation, her leadership and strong-willed nature, and her love for her family, friends, and home. Apart from those fairly standard tropes, she fell flat for me.

I need to confess that, while I have read a handful of young adult fantasy novels, I don’t typically seek them out. With that being said, Meadowcity is a fairly simple read, with enough complexity that it kept my attention throughout. If you like your fantasy to have unique world-building and three-dimensional villains, this book could be for you!


Max’s passion for fantastic stories began with weekly trips to the comic book store as a child. Now an English teacher at a boarding school, he is always reading. Max has written for sites like Geeks of Doom and SF Signal, where he created the Indie Author Spotlight. Max lives in Connecticut with his wife – who graciously embraces his need to display action figures all over the house – and daughter, who is inheriting her parents’ affinity for books.