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Untethered: A Fantasy Novel (The Listening Cities, #1)

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Welcome to New York City. Watch out for the Listeners. Nicholas Reed has suffered visions of a strange yellow diamond since childhood. But it’s not until he meets Kat, a member of the secretive, mystical Listeners, that Nicholas suspects his visions mean something more. Despite their uncanny talents, the Listeners are bound to New York, unable to use their powers outside the Welcome to New York City. Watch out for the Listeners. Nicholas Reed has suffered visions of a strange yellow diamond since childhood. But it’s not until he meets Kat, a member of the secretive, mystical Listeners, that Nicholas suspects his visions mean something more. Despite their uncanny talents, the Listeners are bound to New York, unable to use their powers outside the city. Some Listeners, such as Kat and her mentor Madam, are fighting to keep it that way; others will stop at nothing to gain unfettered freedom. Stuck in the middle is Nicholas, who is trying to figure out why his visions are suddenly stronger—and more alarming—than ever. As the Listeners’ civil war builds, Nicholas will have to face tattooed memory divers, manic heat-eaters, and a calculating hivemind—along with a tragedy from his past that masks a grim secret. Sometimes not knowing is better. Untethered is a thrilling, character-driven fantasy that kicks off an imaginative new series and reads as a standalone tale from a compelling new voice in the genre. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


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Welcome to New York City. Watch out for the Listeners. Nicholas Reed has suffered visions of a strange yellow diamond since childhood. But it’s not until he meets Kat, a member of the secretive, mystical Listeners, that Nicholas suspects his visions mean something more. Despite their uncanny talents, the Listeners are bound to New York, unable to use their powers outside the Welcome to New York City. Watch out for the Listeners. Nicholas Reed has suffered visions of a strange yellow diamond since childhood. But it’s not until he meets Kat, a member of the secretive, mystical Listeners, that Nicholas suspects his visions mean something more. Despite their uncanny talents, the Listeners are bound to New York, unable to use their powers outside the city. Some Listeners, such as Kat and her mentor Madam, are fighting to keep it that way; others will stop at nothing to gain unfettered freedom. Stuck in the middle is Nicholas, who is trying to figure out why his visions are suddenly stronger—and more alarming—than ever. As the Listeners’ civil war builds, Nicholas will have to face tattooed memory divers, manic heat-eaters, and a calculating hivemind—along with a tragedy from his past that masks a grim secret. Sometimes not knowing is better. Untethered is a thrilling, character-driven fantasy that kicks off an imaginative new series and reads as a standalone tale from a compelling new voice in the genre. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

47 review for Untethered: A Fantasy Novel (The Listening Cities, #1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    NoNo JoJo

    Preface: I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating: 4.25 stars Tl;dr: Would recommend for anyone interested in urban fantasy/magical realism/strong characters This novel was a fun read. The strongest aspect of it is easily its cast. Nick is a likable hero that has a savior complex - he really wants to be someone important, save the girl, etc. I think pretty much all avid readers feel that way to some degree (e.g. everyone still mourning their lack of a Hog Preface: I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating: 4.25 stars Tl;dr: Would recommend for anyone interested in urban fantasy/magical realism/strong characters This novel was a fun read. The strongest aspect of it is easily its cast. Nick is a likable hero that has a savior complex - he really wants to be someone important, save the girl, etc. I think pretty much all avid readers feel that way to some degree (e.g. everyone still mourning their lack of a Hogwarts letter). By contrast, Kat has all that specialness, but it pretty much just brings her nothing but grief and strife. One of the villains, Serena, has the same conflict, in that she's not as strong a magic-user (Listener) as she wants to be, and this yearning for more is ultimately her undoing. Character arcs aside, the Madam, Sal and even Needle are also pretty cool (even if I loathe the latter and want him to die a painful death). They're all well-fleshed-out and their motivations are strong/understandable. No one ever really feels "safe," so there's a lot of tension as to who will die/survive (I will say the novel subverts some cliches you'd expect where this is concerned). The Index is also a really interesting character concept, though I feel it was underutilized. The world-building is also pretty neat. It takes place in a sort of alternate New York where people with magical abilities exist. These people either learn the techniques from a mentor (Listeners) or spontaneously develop them (Tanes). However they develop their abilities, they are bound to New York; if they leave, they lose their abilities and everything that comes with them (like their extreme longevity). The crucial conflict revolves around Listeners wanting a secret bit of magic that will let them leave the city. The abilities themselves were really cool; the two main ones we see in action revolve around tying knots and creating markings (tattoos/graffiti), and seeing how they're used and the tricky stuff the Listeners could do with them was really cool. Kat is a really good tool to help us explore these, as she becomes more familiar with different knots and their abilities over the course of the story. The plot is pretty straightforward at first, though it kinda starts going some weird directions at the end. Still, the characters are enough to see it through, as is the mystery of what Nick is, and what happened to him in his past. Sadly, this novel's big flaw is that things aren't wrapped up satisfactorily. We get a semblance of an answer with Nick, but there are still a bunch of hanging questions. There's a new dimension of sorts that's brought up but not really understood (nor are the monsters within it explained). And what exactly Nick & co. are up to at the end isn't really clear. I just didn't find it very satisfying. It makes sense that it's a lead-in to another novel, but I would have liked more closure with at least one aspect of the plot. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable read. If you like magic systems, strong characters, and grounded fantasy, you'll enjoy this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cath

    This is book one in the Listening Cities series and follows the main character Nicholas as he makes his way through what he refers to as ‘spells’ and how they affect his life. He’s having visions of a big yellow diamond. He first had one of these spells whilst at school and soon learnt not to let other people know about them, having spent a year having to see a therapist! One event from his past still haunts his memories and seems to be a trigger. One day, after being let go by his boss, he ends This is book one in the Listening Cities series and follows the main character Nicholas as he makes his way through what he refers to as ‘spells’ and how they affect his life. He’s having visions of a big yellow diamond. He first had one of these spells whilst at school and soon learnt not to let other people know about them, having spent a year having to see a therapist! One event from his past still haunts his memories and seems to be a trigger. One day, after being let go by his boss, he ends up at a bar, drinking his sorrows and tearing up the business cards reflecting his progress through the firm, over the term of his employment. This is when he meets Kat for the first time. She is what is known as a Listener, still under the training of her mentor known as Madam. Listeners are part of a secret society, first discovered over a hundred years ago, who have para-normal abilities. They keep these abilities secret from normal people and only know of others in their own city. They are unable to leave the city without losing their powers. There is another group known as the Index, who are a collective of people, acting in unison, but not taking sides in any of the battles between different groups of Listeners, for dominance over the city. Nicholas has always believed himself better than he was and finally learning of this group of people with a special ability, wonders if his ‘spells’ mean he is one of them! One group of Listeners, led by a man called Needle, want to gain control of something called the ‘Untether’, something that will allow the user to leave New York and spread their power and influence further. Madam is the only one thought to know how to create the intricate design required and will do all she can to protect its secrets. Civil war between the opposing groups of Listeners is teetering on the edge. It seems some are playing loose with their alliances and the impartial Index group are playing loose with their morals. Nicholas is having more and more spells and visions and somehow the Listeners are part of it all. His belief in his new role as an integral part of Kat’s group will lead him to new discoveries about his past, but maybe not exactly what he thought. Matters will become more dangerous than expected as the factions’ battle for dominance and Nicholas finds out his real role in the mix and memories of his past. This was a long and slow read, even though the book was only 360 pages long. I would normally finish this length of book over just a day, but this took nearly four days to complete. There isn’t much wrong with it as such, but the storyline is dense and slow moving and didn’t keep my attention as much as a book with a faster paced read. I am of two minds as to whether I would want to read the next in the series. I may have at least an idea of the story, which may help move things along a lot faster, when it comes to the next book. Not quite the normal paranormal tale. It has nothing wrong with it, it was just far too slow paced for me. I received an ARC copy of this book from Hidden Gems and I have freely given my own opinion of the book above.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Freitag

    Loved it Couldn't put it down! Great characters, action and amazing g story. Highly recommend checking this book out. You so t be disappointed

  4. 5 out of 5

    Belinda Richee

    Wonderful reading! Great, fast flowing storyline. Now ever a dull moment. New magic system. The characters were amazing. Some to love and some to hate. A bit of blood, moderate violence and minimal sex, but nothing graphic. It's all in your head...... (It's like magic when authors can do that!)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Liu

    Full disclosure, I worked with the author to edit this book. In the course of working on it, I received a free copy. I don't often leave reviews for books that I've worked on, as a matter of course, but I made an exception for this book because I loved it that much. Alwill's debut has a confident voice that kept me turning pages long after I had intended to put it down. His characters are strong and fully realized, making it easy to empathize with each, even as they take turns playing the villai Full disclosure, I worked with the author to edit this book. In the course of working on it, I received a free copy. I don't often leave reviews for books that I've worked on, as a matter of course, but I made an exception for this book because I loved it that much. Alwill's debut has a confident voice that kept me turning pages long after I had intended to put it down. His characters are strong and fully realized, making it easy to empathize with each, even as they take turns playing the villain. His prose is elegant and precise, and the world that he created feels familiar yet strange. Untethered introduces us to the world of the Listeners as it bestows upon New York what Neverwhere gives London: a magical world that inhabits the underbelly of the city, a hidden society that operates in the hidden and forgotten passages, the shadows and lights that play at the corners of your eyes. I will be waiting eagerly for the next installment of The Listening Cities!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Spencerbane13

    Great original fantasy. All in all this is a very good book by a very talented author. In some parts the story gets a little bogged down in the imagery the author is trying to impart and he uses to many similes in the pursuit of this imagery. But that is really the only problem I have at all with this book. The story is fantastic and there are several twists that I didn’t see coming. I would absolutely recommend it to fans of fantasy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Untethered is a very interesting first book in what I hope will be a long series of books. In the world that Michael Alwill has created, every person has their own magic style that they have to unlock in their own unique way. The main character of the story battles with himself throughout an exciting adventure in New York City while trying to determine how to unlock his special abilities. It is a really good ride, and I can't wait to see what comes next. If you are looking for a good, quick read Untethered is a very interesting first book in what I hope will be a long series of books. In the world that Michael Alwill has created, every person has their own magic style that they have to unlock in their own unique way. The main character of the story battles with himself throughout an exciting adventure in New York City while trying to determine how to unlock his special abilities. It is a really good ride, and I can't wait to see what comes next. If you are looking for a good, quick read, pick this one up, you won't be dissappointed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jcad6169

  10. 4 out of 5

    Doug

  11. 5 out of 5

    Allison Springer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Louise Brady

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan Fadling

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  15. 5 out of 5

    Al

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chad Lane

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura Fisk

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kari Blocker

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ronish

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Lyons

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Z

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cody Haws

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mouser

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Alwill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tyffani

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rozette

  28. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Pheils

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nick Schmoyer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  31. 4 out of 5

    LoneSilverW0lf

  32. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  33. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Frohn

  34. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  35. 4 out of 5

    Kerri Kamper

  36. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  37. 4 out of 5

    Eric Davis

  38. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  39. 4 out of 5

    Skepticyst

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Guerrero

  41. 4 out of 5

    Hillary Hamlett

  42. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Jon

  43. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  44. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Bossert

  45. 4 out of 5

    Kyra

  46. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  47. 4 out of 5

    Ceejaye

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