Review: City of Mirth and Malice by Alexis L. Menard





Some debts are not so easily repaid—or forgiven.

Nicolai Attano finally has everything he’s ever wanted: control over the Iron Saint Railway, safety for his family, and not a single rival syndicate to stand in his way. Never could he have imagined he’d want anything more than power—not until Camilla Marchese.

Six weeks have passed since the disaster on the train and his wife was kidnapped, but to get her back, he’ll need help. Nico struggles to work with a city poisoned against him and is instead forced to seek the aid of a disreputable black-market dealer. A simple deal to ensure her rescue, Nico doesn’t think twice. A bargain is struck, and the cost is higher than ever. The collateral? His life.

Meanwhile, Camilla fights to gain control over her newfound powers as the alchemist in charge of her confinement puts her to the test. Forced to free what she’s held so close, the only light in this hellish prison is the hope to see her family again, and the husband who stole her heart. Three trials and three chances to find the source of her Chaos and use it to save herself, if it doesn’t destroy her first.

Cracks in the city draw lines between loyalties, and time is running out until everything comes crashing down. Return to Lynchaven in this action-packed and swoony conclusion of Nico and Milla’s story.


Reviewed by Dakota Watson

Just like its predecessor, City of Mirth and Malice delivered an action packed story filled with intrigue, suspense, romance, spice, and familial bonds. After loving House of Bane and Blood, I was eager to dive into this one. When I requested the ARC for City of Mirth and Malice, I had high hopes, and Alexis didn’t disappoint.

The book, the second in the Order and Chaos series, seamlessly continues the story from where the first one left off. While the pacing started off a bit slow, it quickly gained momentum, drawing me back into its beautifully crafted Gaslamp fantastical world. I’ll admit, there were some ups and downs in the storyline where the plot wasn’t as solid as I would have loved it to be and there were moments where I didn’t quite agree with Alexis’ decisions about certain choices the characters made. While City of Mirth and Malice did answer many questions about the magic system and the Void from the first book, there were still plenty of unanswered questions that left me feeling confused at times.

Despite these minor setbacks, I still found myself enjoying the story because Alexis’ storytelling was strong and her writing remained beautiful, just like in the first book. I enjoyed how the book highlighted the influence of social politics, showing how politicians maneuvered to maintain their positions of power.

Camilla was a total badass in this book, just like in the first one. We got to witness a lot of character growth from her as she gradually came to terms with her unpredictable and destructive powers. I loved how Alexis explored the Marchese interactions in this book. It was interesting to see Camilla trying to heal the rocky relationship with her remaining brothers.

While I still loved Nicolai as a character, I found myself not loving him as much as I did in the first book. Personally, I’m not a fan of the overprotective male main character trope. Perhaps that’s what grated on my nerves. While there’s a certain charm to that trope, it has to be done right for it to work. I’m somewhat indecisive about whether it actually worked for Nicolai in this book. Nicolai was always a fixer, but in City of Mirth and Malice, he makes some drastic decisions that would affect the entire Row without consulting anyone, and in the end, he exhausts himself realizing he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Also, I didn’t see much of Nicolai as a person instead of just a husband going above and beyond to ensure his wife’s safety.

Nico’s and Milla’s relationship growth was beautifully presented. The physical intimacy scenes were nicely woven into the story without overwhelming the reader; they felt genuine and credible.

Overall, City of Mirth and Malice was a great action packed enjoyable book. I am not sure whether I’d call this the conclusion of their story though. Because there are still a whole lot of things that wasn’t answered about the magic system, Milla’s mother, the Void, the rebellion in the Continent.

My sincere thanks to Book Sirens for providing me this advanced reader copy in exchange of an honest review.

Book Cover:

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