readingtrance

book reviews by Althea

The House of Shattered Wings – Aliette de Bodard ***

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The House of Shattered Wings
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beautiful setting – an alternate-history Paris, devastated by wars both terrestrial and magical, decaying but still filled with terrible beauty. Gangs run the streets, and others cluster to Houses for protection – Houses run with ruthless amorality by fallen angels.
Biblical, Vietnamese, and Greek myths mix beautifully with original fantastic elements in this world.

Here, Philippe, a Vietnamese man brought to Paris as a conscripted soldier and then abandoned to the streets, is brought against his will into House Silverspires. It’s recognized that something is odd about Philippe – something they want to investigate. Silverspires is the oldest House, and once the most powerful, run by the Morningstar himself – Lucifer. But Morningstar has been absent these past 20 years. In his absence, Selene is the head – but are there plots against her? If so, do they stem from without or within – or both?

With Phillipe’s arrival, a curse of shadows seems to have been unleashed upon Silverspires, and both humans and angels are dying. Is the timing coincidence, or no? Will the mystery be solved, or will everything fall to chaos and dust?

There are a lot of elements to this book that I liked, but I also felt that it could’ve been better. I didn’t really connect with, or care for, any of the characters. They felt remote from me. The setup also felt a bit – almost – game-influenced. It’s almost as if Anne Bishop wrote one of Sharon Shinn’s Samaria novels. (I love Shinn’s writing style, but Bishop’s leaves me cool.)

I’d only previously read short stories by de Bodard. Some I loved, some weren’t for me – but this book wasn’t really what I expected from my previous experience. That’s not a positive or a negative – it’s just different.

Many thinks to Orion Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is solely my own.

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