Our Lady of the Streets is the final novel in Tom Pollock’s urban fantasy trilogy. I would advise you to tread no further if you don’t want to hear spoilers for The City’s Son and The Glass Republic.
London is ill, disease is spreading through its streets with the most frightening of symptoms – people are sealed up within houses that suddenly lose all windows and doors, their screams heard for a short while before whole streets become silent graves of brick; fire rages through other neighbourhoods, burning everyone and everything with a ferocious, unnatural heat. Mater Vitae has returned from London-Under-Glass, a reflected city, a reflected goddess, to reclaim her skyscraper throne. But her arrival has triggered war and among its casualties is Beth, our heroine, who is slowly becoming as one with the streets and so she too is sickening, becoming weaker by the day though never has the need for strength been more important.
Pen, the heart and soul of The Glass Republic, continues to search for her Steeplejill, caught on the other side of the mirror, but as her own London becomes increasingly threatened Pen makes a great sacrifice to pull the danger out of the city. Pen’s sacrifice isn’t the only one – Our Lady of the Streets is full of bravery, honour, risk and tragedy. The stakes are high, no less than the life of London itself, and the cost is enormous for all of the souls that we have grown to care about over the course of this powerful and striking trilogy.
The Skyscraper Throne trilogy is quite an achievement, to put it mildly. The City’s Son, the first of the three was such a tour de force that I was compelled to read the entire trilogy one after another – a very rare thing for me. I am delighted, although not surprised, to report that Our Lady of the Streets is every bit as excellent as I hoped, providing a fitting conclusion to the series and to the whole drama. It stays true to the characters of Beth and Pen, continuing to develop their characters while bringing their stories to a height and then to a fitting close. As before, Pollock continues to pull no punches – there is blood, death and intense suffering. Some characters that we have grown to love perish with barely a sound, lost among the victims of this great assault, and this leads to some heartbreaking moments and not just for the other characters either.
The worldbuilding is as strong as ever, breathing life and heart into the buildings and monuments, just as Beth is herself transformed. The story moves through the streets, over rooftops, through shops and tunnels, so many inhabited by creatures that most dwellers of London would never see, as events unfold towards the explosive conclusion.
All three books are thrilling but along with the action they also have a great deal of heart and fire, the characters always as important as the action. Tom Pollock’s portrait of London is extraordinary and I’ll never look at the city – its statues, cemeteries, tubes, cranes or glass towers – in the same way again. That’s quite a gift the author has given us.