Reader’s Guide

City of Dark Magic

City of Dark Magic

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

1. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Though the novel is humorous, there are some serious themes under all that fun. What are Sarah’s thoughts on the idea that some people inherit huge wealth and are considered “noble,” while others have to earn their keep, and how does Max feel about his inheritance?

  • There are people from many cultures, backgrounds, and with various physical strengths or disabilities in the book. How does this book deal with stereotypes?

  • How are the themes of loss, fatherhood, and longing explored in this novel?

  • Characters in the novel have differing religious beliefs. How does Sarah’s time in Prague affect her beliefs?

  • Sarah’s ambition puts her in the crosshairs of Charlotte Yates’s ambitions. How does the novel address issues of ambition?

  • Nicolas Pertusato claims he’s four hundred years old. In what ways does the novel explore different aspects of immortality for him, for Beethoven, and for Sherbatsky?

  • Sarah Weston is approached out of the blue to go to Prague for the summer to help catalog Beethoven’s papers. What convinces her to take the job?

  • At the castle, Sarah is introduced to her fellow housemates, most of whom are there to do their own respective research. What do her initial impressions of the other residents tell us about her, and them?

  • Sarah notices early on that Prague has a “vibe” (p. 55). How do Sarah’s feelings about things like “vibes” and magic change in the course of the novel?

  • Who is Charlotte Yates, what is her connection to the Lobkowicz family, and what does her story tell us about the history of Prague?

  • Dr. Sherbatsky is an important mentor for Sarah. What has she learned from him and what does his unfortunate death mean for her?

  • Sarah is, by her own admission, a highly sexual person. Which qualities draw her to potential partners, and how does she feel about love as it is conventionally portrayed in books and movies? Do we judge female characters that are openly sexual differently than we do male characters with the same trait?

  • Nicolas gives Sarah a strange drug. What does the drug do and what is its connection to the mysteries of the castle? What does it awaken in Sarah?

  • What is Prince Max looking for, and why? How do his and Sarah’s ambitions at first keep them apart, then bring them together?

  • Sarah and Max learn they knew each other as young children. What effect does this strange coincidence have on their relationship?

  • Sarah ultimately discovers the “truth” about Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved. What does she find out,

  • and how does it change her feelings about the composer?
  • In the epigraph, there is a quote from Beethoven: “Of Princes there have and will be thousands—of Beethovens there is only one.” Why do you think the authors chose this quote to open the story?
  • promo_TwitterBookClub_small

    Connect With Penguin

    Penguin Group (USA)
    Get ready to add two new thrillers to your immediate TBR -- FIND HER by Lisa Gardner is in stores now & THE STRANGER by... 3 days ago

    Penguin Group (USA)
    Shared from Me Before You! 1 week ago

    Penguin Group (USA)
    Have you seen the official movie poster for #MeBeforeYou yet?! The trailer comes out tomorrow! Shared from Jojo Moyes 1 week ago

    Follow us on Facebook

    @penguinusa
    RT @riverheadbooks: "This is an ecstatic moment" @carlorovelli, author of SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS, about... 23 hours ago

    @penguinusa
    RT @portfoliobooks: Powerful NYT excerpt from INDENTURED:The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera &... 23 hours ago

    @penguinusa
    Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a signed copy of @AzizAnsari’s #ModernRomance! RT for a chance to win! #Sweepstakes... 1 day ago

    Penguin Books USA
    Enter for a chance to win five Hardcover Classics beautifully illustrated by Anna Bond of +RIFLE PAPER Co.!

    One Grand Prize... 4 months ago

    Penguin Books USA
    #1 +The New York Times–bestselling author Jan Karon returns—with the story readers have been waiting for!

    Enter by... 4 months ago

    Penguin Books USA
    Enter for a chance to win a copy of YOU BLEW IT! by +Josh Gondelman    ?and Joe Berkowitz!

    A hilarious examination of faux... 4 months ago

    promo_PenguinBlog_small
    promo_FirsttoRead_Small
    promo_SHOP
    PRH Book Clubs Survey

    Westerns

    Craig Johnson
    Keith McCafferty
    Michael McGarrity
    promo_PenguinBlog_small
    promo_FirsttoRead_Small
    promo_StaffPicks
    promo_EditorsDesk

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Elizabeth Gilbert
    Penguin 80th Anniversary
    Penguin 80th Timeline
    Penguin 80th The Original 10
    Penguin 80th Scavenger Hunt
    Fun Fact

    Elvis Presley is born in 1935 and, a little over 20 years later, he would have his first #1 single on the US charts, forever changing the landscape of popular culture and ushering in a new age of celebrity superstardom.

    Penguin 80th Book Truck