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review 2018-09-01 23:27
The Hysterical City (Gold and Gaslight Chronicles #3) by Andrea Berthot
The Hysterical City - Andrea Berthot

Disclaimer: Andrea Berthot and I are 'friends' on Goodreads but do not know each other offline.

I thought The Heartless City was amazing. When Andrea Berthot reached out and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing it, it sounded interesting – but I had no idea how awesome it really was. When she offered the sequel, The Hypnotic City, I immediately said YES PLEASE and that shot straight to my six stars shelf. 

When Andrea reached out and offered The Hysterical City to me, since I’d enjoyed the other two so much, it took all I had not to go GIVE IT TO ME NOW.

I regret nothing, 

If I thought The Heartless City was amazing, and The Hypnotic City was even better, I just have no words to describe how immensely I enjoyed The Hysterical City. 

Which is tough, because I'm a book reviewer. Words are kinda my thing.

In The Hysterical City, Bonnie, a supporting character from The Hypnotic City, stars as the ingénue who moves to Paris to kickstart a film career. Quickly finding herself more at home behind the camera than in front of it, she also gets embroiled with her boss’ family – including a terrifying misogynist called Malcolm who treats women for the female only ‘disease’, hysteria, and who has a morbid fascination with Tom Casey, the man who almost ruined Bonnie’s life, seeking to treat his victims.

I was almost overwhelmed with how well written The Hysterical City was. In it, Bonnie meets and falls for the incredibly pretty Leslie, a young British actor at the studio – who also happens to be deaf. His twin sister the makeup artist Laura quickly befriends Bonnie, and Bonnie figures out Laura is attracted to women, and of course, because she’s enlightened, she doesn’t have an issue with this. Laura teaches Bonnie sign language so she can talk to Leslie, and Laura’s French girlfriend Marie is initially hostile towards Bonnie, but then realises Bonnie’s not into Laura. 

As someone who is neither hearing impaired nor gay I think the whole thing was written very sensitively. While Leslie is initially hostile and kind of a jackass to Bonnie, she doesn't give up learning sign language, which shows her strength of character. Her relationship with her own Scooby Gang is lovely to watch develop. I'm a fan of strong female friendships.

Berthot also must have done a ton of research because there was a lot of different niche interests crammed into this book. I think Berthot wrote with authority not only on sign language and different verbal languages, but also on French history, historical literature (Bonnie liked to read), and the general business of making films in that time period. 

The main villain in this book was just despicable, a completely awful person who took advantage of vulnerable people to do simply awful things. Every time he was on the page, I literally cringed, and I was so desperate for someone to just jump on him and stab him to death. Berthot showed great restraint handling him like she did! 

I was also kept guessing with the several mysteries in the plot... I don't want to say more, because I felt genuine horror at discovering it all myself, so I'd rather other readers discovered it for themselves as well!

The pacing was perfect. I felt like the pages flipped by and I finished it quicker than every other book I have read recently. The atmosphere was incredible - a carefully cultivated mix of turn of the century glitzy glam and the seductiveness of the emerging film era, with French flair, and the same heavy atmosphere mixed with both hope and dread I found in the previous two books, while not being as gloomy as the first.

I distinctly remember how much I loved the previous books, and if I had to choose my favourite out of the Chronicles so far... I couldn't? Don't make me? I love them all!

All I can do is turn my pleading puppy dog eyes on Berthot and beg... more please?

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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review 2016-10-22 15:52
The Hypnotic City
The Hypnotic City (The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles Book 2) - Andrea Berthot

I've been contemplating for a while where to start with The Hypnotic City. I really enjoyed The Heartless City, although I complained about it being a zombie book without zombies. My experience this time was much the same, it felt like there was not a lot of the first book in the second, making it feel more like standalone novels.

Philomena is - for most of the story anyway - the returning main character and with the quarantine lifted she's decided to leave London and move to New York to finally become a star. She learns quite quickly to hide her London origin and things don't really go as planned, so she ends up working in a small theater which isn't at all what she had in mind. However, at some point she's offered the chance of a lifetime.

Besides feeling disorientated, because I had no clue where the story was going in the beginning, now that most of the characters were far away and didn't seem to play a role in the story, but it turned into a fast read quickly. I wasn't too much surprised with the turns the story took, because all the way I was expecting something to happen, and this was the more obvious choice, but it was nice to read anyway. What I didn't particularly liked was the romance plot, once again, since it was rather cheesy with him complaining about things which made Philomena feel insecure and hide her past and then much 'misunderstanding' and the like. The re-introduction of the characters from the first book only took place near the end, and that part felt a bit rushed.

I seem to remember this was going to be a duology, in which case I can reflect that it certainly is not a standard read. The two books are very different, but in all honesty I preferred The Heartless City.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2016-08-17 10:01
The Hypnotic City
The Hypnotic City (The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles Book 2) - Andrea Berthot

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.]

Although this sequel to "The Heartless City" is more of a standalone, I'd still recommend reading the first novel, as it will make understanding Philomena (and her relationship with her friends) better.

Philomena herself is a character I liked a lot in the previous book. As a young woman, almost a girl still, who grew up in an infested London and a slave of her household, just good enough to be married and have children as soon as she'd be of age, she could have been just any old secondary character, but let not her diminutive stature fool you: there's fire and heart and willpower underneath. Disowned by her family, she goes to New York to fulfil her dream of becoming a singer on the Broadway scene. There starts the story of "The Hypnotic City".

I must admit I remained torn throughout my reading, because of the "rags to riches" aspect—it was hard for me to decide if it was too cliché to my liking, or if it provided, on the contrary, a nice mise en abyme to Tom Casey's shows: they're described as "ridiculous and inane" by Jamie, stories where a working girl discovers she's actually from a noble background and gets to embrace her legacy while also finding love... and this runs parallel to what happens to Philomena, except that she knows she's of noble birth, but hides it, since people are always scared of her whenever she mentions coming from London. I tend to be on the fence regarding such plots, and there are quite a few clichés as well in this one: the letters that never arrive. Still, I couldn't help but keep thinking that was totally on purpose, the author going all "sod it, I like those tropes, so I'm going to use them", and not something done to fit a stereotype just because "some people love it". I cannot fault that, and any reader who enjoys this kind of story is very likely to enjoy this one more than I did. (Which isn't to say I didn't—it's just not my favourite kind of plot, if that makes sense.)

One really good thing here, regarding this "sterotypical plot", is the feeling of unease permeating it. Perhaps because I already knew what Philomena had been through, perhaps because I expected "something" to happen at some point, but also because, under all the glitter and budding-singer-becomes-a-star glitz, I could sense that something was amiss. And I'd say the characters feel it too, especially Jamie, who may speak out of jealousy or contempt, yet nevertheless puts a finger on a few strange things in the process.

Another good thing is that the heroine is not a passive, helpless creature who lets events unfold around her; she tries to seize chances (going to auditions...) when she can, and she asserts her will (when a man boos her at her first show, she improvises and ends up impressing the audience). Phil knows what she wants, and is ready to fight for it, even though there are moments when she feels defeated. Yet this is also part of what "being a strong character" entails: it doesn't mean being strong all the time, nor doing everything alone, it also means being able to acknowledge when you need help, and get it, and then win. Sort of.

The romance part was alright (I know, I know, I'm really a tough audience in terms of romance). Philomena's love interest definitely had flaws, which made him human (and that's good), but those flaws weren't a deal breaker for me, unlike all these brooding-assholish "I'm so dangerous so don't come near me characters", and he was a decent person all around, who respected Phil's personality.

The other guy was revolting, to say the least. I hated reading about him—and that is an extremely good thing, since eliciting feelings in a reader isn't so easily done, at least not when I am concerned. When an author conveys how despicable a character is, in a manner that makes me feel like strangling said character with their own guts, well, that author has done something right.

I do believe the story could and should have been longer, though. As it is, a lot of screen time, so to speak, was devoted to the "rags to riches" part, and by contrast the resolution came too quickly. We barely get to see anything of Iris, Elliot and the others, when their role was important and would have deserved more, without necessarily detracting from Phil's status as the main character. As it is, it seemed as if the main story was all told already, and that the mysterious/conspiracy part of the plot had to be dealt with because a resolution was expected, yet without being really convinced about it. Had this part been more developed, it'd have been a 4-stars for me.

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review 2016-08-02 00:46
The Hypnotic City by Andrea Berthot
The Hypnotic City (The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles Book 2) - Andrea Berthot

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Disclaimer: Andrea and I are Goodreads friends. This is because I read a review copy of The Heartless City, fell in love with it, and decided Andrea should be my new BFF, so I friend requested her (also to keep tabs on when her new books are coming out). My online ‘friendship’ with the author has absolutely no bearing on my rating of the book and the following review is my tree and honest feelings.


Philomena and Jennie have made it from London to New York, just as Phil always knew she would. Now she just has to bide her time and work her butt off until someone spots her enormous talent and turns her into the star she is destined to be!


I really loved The Hypnotic City, so much that it’s got a place on my six-stars shelf. I loved the plot, the characters, the writing, the pacing, the romance, that general feeling of unease Berthot managed to weave in there. I loved to hate the villain and I cheered when a specific gang of people showed up and I pretty much fell head over heels for this book. Philomena is a phenomenal, fiery young woman with more determination and ambition in her little finger than most people have in their whole lives. She’s destined to be a star, and when she finally starts listening to that powerful voice in her head that tells not to put with shit from anyone, her small act at a music hall leads to a lead role in a new musical by a young and powerful writer/producer called Tom. Meanwhile, Phil develops a very sweet relationship with a stage manager called Jamie, but Tom’s watching from the wings…


I love how even though The Hypnotic City was about this huge mystery and this huge consipiracy but it was also about the concept of the ‘nice guy’, and the study into the character who fits that shoe. He showers Philomena with everything she desires and expects her to return his affection ‘just because’ he’s done everything for her. It was so creepy watching this develop, and in fact I largely read on in denial even though I had a little voice in the back of my head going ‘be careful!’ because I’m generally a positive person and it took me a while to suspect that the Nice Guy had an ulterior motive. Well, so did Phil, so I guess we’re even.


Phil’s supporting cast mainly revolved around Jamie, her friend Jenny who quickly leaves the story due to her own romance, and two chorus girls Bonnie and Flo who, although were different to each other, I like to imagine as twins. The romance is a big part of the book but so is Phil’s hard work in the theatre. I might have liked to have seen more of rehearsals in the lead up to the big show but I know that’s not the point, especially when everyone was gushing about how great Phil was. I liked how Phil was smart enough to figure out her dilemma, and try to work out ways to escape. She certainly wasn’t willing to put up with any shit until she literally had no choice in the matter, and I loved that about her.



I tried to read the novel slowly and limited myself how much I read each day because otherwise I would have just devoured the whole thing. Every time I put it own, I ached to pick it back up. The pacing was incredible, every moment just ratcheting to the next and making everything bigger and better until the Worse Possible Thing happened, and then I confess I kind of wanted to put the book down again because I didn’t possibly see how Phil could get out of this problem all by herself. Luckily there were cameos of the characters I loved in the previous novel and that made everything better.


Overall I don’t want you to read this book because IT’S MINE ALL MINE.


No, I’m kidding. I don’t know if I have a particular ‘thing’ for YA Urban Historical Fantasy with this whole ‘science gone wrong’ thing or what, it seemed like the book was written just for me. Maybe you’ll find that, too, when you read it, because I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone.

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review 2016-05-30 01:46
Mysteries And Conspiracies in the Heartless City of London
The Heartless City - Andrea Berthot

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



London has been in quarantine for 13 years thanks to the Hydes, monstrous-like heart-eating beings that shift from ordinary infected humans who have taken the Hyde drug. Elliot, the son of the physician looking for a cure, who in the search for a weapon against the Hydes accidentally made himself an empath, and Iris, a strange American girl who has no fear, aim to discover the secret of the Hyde drug and uncover the conspiracy around it that could lead all the way to the top through Elliot’s best friend Cambrien – the son of the Lord Mayor of London, who will do anything to stay in power.



Elliot and his eventual Scooby Gang try to discover the awful secrets hidden in this alternate London while still living their lives – enjoying contraband, going to music halls, official dinners to please the Lord Mayor, a brutish and terrifying figure. Now that I take a step back and think about it, it’s not a plot-driven novel. It’s very character driven, and very emotional. Elliot is grieving over the death of his mother, his changed relationship with his father, his new power that he doesn’t want and can’t control, and the guilt of being responsible for a friend’s death.



I mentioned there’s a Scooby Gang! I don’t know what else to call it. There’s this ‘team’ that forms of teen friendships, led by Cambrien, the Lord Mayor’s son. His best friend Elliot is involved, Iris is brought in, and they are joined by Philomena, a fiery debutante-to-be, and Andrew, the brother of the boy Elliot feels guilty over. I love this gang. I love them hanging out, enjoying the contraband, I love their love for each other, I love their secrets and different relationships to each other. It’s so cool to see an actual gang of friends in an alternate-history-paranormal book. Another character to be aware of is the scarily efficient Lord Mayor of London, who is an awful person and an even worse father to Cambrien. I would be genuinely afraid to meet this man.



So this isn’t exactly a retelling of Dr Jekyll and My Hyde, it takes its inspiration from it and twists it into something entirely new. I loved Berthot’s writing, she really managed to get to the heart of every single scene. I loved how the period setting affected the characters and how Elliot came to realise due to his emotions a lot of the propaganda young men are still taught today – that women don’t feel lust, for example. I loved how spot-on all of the emotions Elliot was feeling were described, especially those of other people whose motivation we might not yet have discovered. It definitely made the book re-readable. The whole thing was easily digestible – not exactly light and fluffy, because there are definitely trigger issues in there, but it flowed smoothly and was easy to follow. In fact, I pretty much guessed the big reveal pretty early on but there were enough twists to keep me guessing the results and fallout of other issues.



Spot on. I had to stop reading due to another review book being due but I was always eager to come back to this story while at the same time I tried to read it slower than usual because I didn’t want it to end. It felt high-stakes all the way through and the slower moments were a chance to catch my breath and reflect on what I’d learned and try to predict what might come next – which I often didn’t. I will mention the inevitable romance – it did seem, like most YA, a little on the fast side, but taking into account the fact that Elliot can feel what others feel and Iris can control what she feels, it’s understandable the two should fall in love with such intensity, and I didn’t have an issue with it at all.



I am completely and totally blown away by this book. I absolutely loved it. It’s not one that I would normally pick up looking at the (admittedly pretty, but dark) cover and (admittedly bland until you know what it’s referencing) title, but I am so so glad I did because I had a really great time reading it, falling in love with the characters and becoming invested in their story and outcomes. I am totally up for reading the second book, which from what I gather follows Philomena as she trots off to Manhattan to become a Broadway star.


Note: Andrea Berthot and I started mutually following each other after I started reading this book. I’m pretty sure I’m going to make her be my friend (my precious), but I don’t want anyone getting any ideas about me rating ‘my friend’s book’ 5 stars. It’s not being friends with Andrea that made me love her book: it’s the other way around.

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