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.