Rat City (The Rat City Chronicles #1), by Laury Silvers

The Book

Rat City
Series: The Rat City Chronicles
Pages: 150
Age Group: Adult
Published on 3/1/2023
Historical Fantasy
Available on:


In the walled city of Aman Kala, the grisly murder of a sacred Rat Keeper pulls Detective Derya Mack into an investigation that threatens to expose the power struggles that guarantee the very safety the fortress offers from the plague world.

The year is 986H/1578CE and Derya Mack lives and works in Aman-Kala, a plague fortress located between Arab, Persian, and Turkic lands. The rebel Zanj have toppled the Abbasid Caliphate, outlawed slavery, and turned regions and cities into client states. The Zanj Caliphate governs from Baghdad backed up by the force of their empire-wide army. Regional militaries are outlawed and cities are left to govern themselves without police or jails. In Aman-Kala, private detectives solve crimes, large and small. Derya Mack is one of those detectives.

Rat City is a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo and will be republished in September 2023 in a collection of novellas based on the classic novel entitled Revenge in Three.  

My Review

Rat City is an interesting novella, which marks the start of The Rat City Chronicles, written by Laury Silvers. It is a blend of historical fiction, set in a Muslim plague city, with a noir story, and a touch of fantasy, creating a novella that you want to devour in one sit.

In the walled city of Aman Kala, Detective Derya Mack is called to investigate the assassination of a sacred Rat Keeper; but what she doesn't expect is where her investigation will lead. She will have to interrogate and look for clues that can point to the responsible, but at the same time, she will also find proofs of how the system might not be as perfect as it was painted.

Silvers does an outstanding job of creating a really detailed world, in which the readers are submerged easily; you can clearly see the Muslim influences that are shaping how this city is organized, and the addition of some specific words helps immerse into it. Introducing the city's organization with a small glossary also proved to be useful, as the author didn't lose time in explaining things the characters should know, as residents of the place.

While I feel they are in a good spot, it is true that characters can be felt as a bit plain, as they don't really evolve much during the story; probably as a consequence of the length. They are interesting, but mostly fill roles in the story.

A really hooking novella, which nails the noir side, making you try to guess which is the reality behind the mystery; paired with a superb world-building. If you are looking for a historical mystery novella, set in a Muslim plague city, give this book a try.

Disclaimer: This novella has been read as part of the SFINCS 2023. This review/rating only represents my personal opinion and it might differ with what the team decides.

The Author/s

Laury Silvers

Laury Silvers

Laury Silvers is a North American Muslim, raised in the United States but finally at home in Canada. Her research and publications as a historian of religion focused on early Islam, early Sufism, and early pious and Sufi women. She taught at Skidmore College and the University of Toronto. Silvers also published work engaging Islam and Gender in North America in academic journals and popular venues, was actively involved in the woman-led prayer movement, and co-founded the Toronto Unity Mosque. She has since retired from academia and activism and hopes her novels continue her scholarship and activism in their own way. She lives in Toronto under Treaty 13.