A BookPage 2021 Reader's Choice.
IndieNext Kids' List pick for Nov/Dec 2021 and an Amazon Editor's Pick for Best YA Book of October 2021.
Finalist in the 2021 Cybils Award category for Young Adult Speculative Fiction.
Death lurks around every corner in this unforgettable Jewish historical fantasy about a city, a boy, and the shadows of the past that bind them both together.
Chicago, 1893. For Alter Rosen, this is the land of opportunity, and he dreams of the day he’ll have enough money to bring his mother and sisters to America, freeing them from the oppression they face in his native Romania.
But when Alter’s best friend, Yakov, becomes the latest victim in a long line of murdered Jewish boys, his dream begins to slip away. While the rest of the city is busy celebrating the World’s Fair, Alter is now living a nightmare: possessed by Yakov’s dybbuk, he is plunged into a world of corruption and deceit, and thrown back into the arms of a dangerous boy from his past. A boy who means more to Alter than anyone knows.
Now, with only days to spare until the dybbuk takes over Alter’s body completely, the two boys must race to track down the killer—before the killer claims them next.
☆ “Readers looking for finely wrought historical fiction with fully realized characters and a thrilling pursuit of justice are sure to be satisfied by Alter’s story.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
☆ “A wild ride of a queer gothic fantasy that’s a must-have for YA fantasy collections.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review
☆ “A gorgeous, disturbing, visceral and mystical experience… steeped in vibrant historical detail… His [Polydoros’s] unflinching and well-rounded depiction of Jewish American and immigrant history makes The City Beautiful a superb addition to the ranks of YA historical fiction.”—BookPage, Starred Review
☆ “The City Beautiful is a triumph, showcasing queer love, illuminating historical events, and guiding readers to an enthralling ending that will leave them satiated yet desirous to return to the world in which they have become immersed.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“Readers will become immersed in Alter’s world, rooting for his survival, hoping for his reunion with his family, and wishing for him to find the love that he deserves.”—Kirkus Reviews
"The City Beautiful is the haunting, queer Jewish historical thriller of my darkest dreams." —Dahlia Adler, creator of LGBTQ Reads and editor of That Way Madness Lies
"An achingly rendered exploration of queer desire, grief, and the inexorable scars of the past." —Katy Rose Pool, author of There Will Come A Darkness
"Like a darkly compelling dream; I dare readers to try to put down this queer triumph of a book where myth, mystery, and death lurk around every corner of the Windy City."—Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series
"With stark, poignant prose and an endearing main character, The City Beautiful is an entrancing and chilling tale that deftly analyzes complex themes of identity and assimilation. One-part historical fantasy, one-part gothic thriller, this genre-blending story has something for everyone."—Kalyn Josephson, author of the Storm Crow duology
"Sinister and alluring, The City Beautiful will utterly transport you. With a keen eye for historical details, Polydoros deftly weaves together a gruesome murder mystery, a beautiful romance, and a rich depiction of Jewish life in the 19th century. I absolutely adored Alter, a boy on a quest for closure, love, and belonging in a hostile world."—Allison Saft, author of Down Comes the Night
"Set during the 1893 Chicago World Fair, The City Beautiful is a gripping, fast-paced book that expertly marries thriller and murder mystery. Polydoros is not afraid to tear aside the façade of beauty and civility to confront the darkest aspects of human nature, no holds barred. The resulting book is something truly special."—Sophie Gonzales, author of Only Mostly Devastated
"The City Beautiful is an immersive and chilling mystery thriller—with an entrancing main character, complex depictions of queerness and community and transportive prose, Polydoros delivers an uncanny and sinister story that will keep readers guessing to the very end."—The Nerd Daily
"The City Beautiful has darkness at its heart, as its characters struggle to survive amidst antisemitism, horrific labor standards, and prejudice... its details (are) rich with specificity and research, and its joys tinged with sorrow... but that makes it all the more moving."—NPR
• Antisemitism (occurs on page and includes the use of antisemitic slurs and rhetoric)
• On page murder and violence
• Death of a parent
• References to sexual assault
• References to death by burning
• References to pogroms/massacres