The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Lovely Melfka recommended this one to me – thank you very much, you rock!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, a alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

What I liked:

The cover art is good. No, it’s not the end of good things, it’s just a beginning :).

The author proved a romantic thread doesn’t have to move the whole plot forward. In fact, if you have a good story idea you don’t need any romance at all, making your book a tad more original among all those romance-driven UF novels. Good choice!

The angels. Usually I am not a fan of these creatures in UF but this time I was swayed. They were good – three dimensional, complex beings without any clear division line between white and dark hats.

The setting. Post-war Paris was such a nice place to visit. Ruins and rot – what not to like? ;p

Dragons or, more precisely, Vietnamese water dragons. A bit different, no fire,  no wings but pleasant to get acquainted with and follow around.

What I didn’t like:

I wish the lovely, atmospheric, post-traumatic Paris was a bit more exposed, especially its catacombs. Tough luck – the author never mentioned any catacombs. I just wonder why. There are kilometers and kilometers of catacombs under that city, believe it or not.

The dynamics between Madeleine the alchemist, and Asmodeus, a powerful Fallen and her former master, was good but left unexplored. Waiting for another part?

The ending. I don’t want to spoil anybody but the final explanation concerning the attacks and killings in House Silverspires, one of the angelic mob organizations, made me annoyed for more than one reason. Overall near the end I felt that the whole premise was unravelling before my own eyes – not a good feeling to end a book with. Some characters died without any sense or reasons while other, less prominent characters, were kept alive for a reason or reasons unknown. Pity.

Certain resurrections made me even more annoyed. I hate it when somebody dies and then escapes. It is tantamount to cheating.

Final verdict:

An original UF position with interesting characters and a plot which up to a point made sense. Still its ending kind of ruined it all for me.

Rating icon. A hairless cat is wearing a santa hat and a sour expression. On the hat reads: meh.

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8 Responses to The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

  1. blodeuedd says:

    And a meh, sigh

  2. heidenkind says:

    Lol So I get the feeling catacombs are an absolute must for you when it comes to books about Paris 🙂

    Anyway, this does sound good, with the setting and all. Too bad it doesn’t pan out :/

    • A post-apocalyptical Paris MUST include catacombs, that’s true. In other settings they are highly appreciated as well ;). It is a good book – up to a point. Still I got a feeling the author wanted to finish it very badly and, as a result, didn’t deliver a good ending.

  3. Carole Rae says:

    “….romantic thread doesn’t have to move the whole plot forward”
    Major points there, but ultimately, seems like a meh to me.

  4. Melfka says:

    The ending ruined it a bit for me as well. I think more of Asmodeus and Madelaine (with their respective love interests woven in) would be good ;). But then, I love Madelaine and her story. In a way, a scared angel-essence addict came across less brooding that Philippe who was supposed to be somewhat of a main character.

    • Madelaine was good; still if she survived much longer I would consider it another example of cheating. With so ruined lungs she was living on a borrowed time and it was actually a surprise that the author didn’t let her die near the end. Asmodeus…at one point I fancied him and Philippe together. Now I am not so sure. ;p

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