A review by katreadstoomanybooks
Rain City Lights, by Marissa Harrison

dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


This gritty, atmospheric novel made me so homesick for Seattle, even though the main plot centers around a serial killer!  Monti and Sasha are coming of age in the 1980s in Seattle, just as grunge music is kicking off.  At the same time, a serial killer is targeting teen Black prostitutes.

In my opinion, the book would have been improved if the present day timeline was presented first, and then interspersed with flashbacks.  Sometimes, it was hard to tell what year a scene was taking place.  I would have also preferred just reading Monti’s story, but I do love a good chapter from the killer’s perspective!  I was disappointed that there was only one.

The blurb references Seattle’s Underground but as far as I could tell, the book doesn’t mention this at all.  I did love that Harrison focused on the birth of grunge music, teenage prostitutes working in Pike Place Market (rarely discussed), and that it features an interracial relationship.

Bottom line: too much was going on.  It could have been tightened up.  I applaud Harrison for trying to address race, class, poverty, religion, homophobia, abuse, addiction, and more in 370 pages, but it just didn’t mesh in a cohesive way.