City of Lies - Lian Tanner Just assume that if I listen to an audiobook narrated by Claudia Black, that I will be giving her performance five stars. Not only does she once again do an excellent job with the various characters, but I continue to be amazed by how she can pull so much emotion from words on a page. It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the action and emotion when she is so completely immersed in her telling. Not that this is surprising for me. I’ve been known to shed real and true tears along with her as she expresses her deepest regrets to a puppet.

Anyway, City of Lies takes place six months after the events of Museum of Thieves. The Fugalman is assumed dead and his Blessed Guardians have been removed from power, which means children are now free to roam without chains. Some parents and children aren’t quite ready for the change and make their own bindings. A broken limb and an almost drowning are raising tensions in the city of Jewel and calling the Protector’s abilities to keep the children safe into question, especially when rumours of a return of kidnappers proves true with the disappearance of a little girl.

Meanwhile, Goldie Roth has been busily avoiding the Museum of Dunt and the request to take her place as Keeper. Her parents are both unwell and she places their poor health squarely on her own shoulders as a result of her running away in the last book. Becoming a Keeper would mean abandoning her parents and that’s not something Goldie is willing to do, no matter how much her parents encourage her and her friend Toadspit demands it. The kidnapping forces Goldie to forget both of these concerns to focus solely on the rescue of not one but two children, whisked away to the city of Spoke which is about to celebrate its Festival of Lies. For two days, everything will be backwards. How will Goldie learn the truth and rescue her friends within a city of lies?

Once again, Goldie must rely on her wits and the skills of theft and stealth she learned in her previous adventure. And she must also deal with the mysterious voice in the back of her mind that continues to steer her. I’m glad the issue of the voice is addressed. It plays such a prominent role in Goldie’s decisions, as does the broach she wears that once belonged to her bold Auntie Praise. Neither device received much explanation for their purpose in the previous book, but clearly they are important. I’m not certain how I feel about the voice by the end of City of Lies, but I’m curious about how things will play out in the final book in the trilogy. Hopefully we’ll also get to learn a bit more about Auntie Praise.

I’m glad that Goldie’s guilt over her parents does not become an overwhelming shadow to the story, though I appreciate the level of responsibility it shows in Goldie. The whole concept of The Keepers series is to show that children don’t need as much protection as we believe they do. They can be trusted with responsibility and don’t need to be locked in protective bubbles for their own safety. That was more heavily addressed in the previous book, but the lingering paranoia of adults who don’t believe this to be true continues to hang over the plot.

I was disappointed in the lack of Broo in this story, though the tattered cat was a worthy replacement. I also missed the Museum of Dunt, which is a character unto itself. Not that Broo, the Museum and the other Keepers are forgotten, though. They all play a very important part in the story and their connection to Goldie and the children remains strong.

The festival of lies is a fun part of the adventure and the idea of having everyone say the opposite of what they mean is not overdone. Or rather, it could have become annoying, but keep in mind that this is a book written for a younger audience who would probably appreciate the backwards antics of the festival.

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