“Corpses don’t really have stories to tell, unless that dreadfully bored husband of yours has a way to raise the dead.”
As it happened, he did. It was a costly spell that relied on the victim being a Fallen, which wasn’t going to work there. Thuan debated lying about it, and decided not. It would be easy enough to see Asmodeus wasn’t doing necromancy. “I’m afraid not,” he said. “But he’s full of nasty surprises.”
Mostly the nasty ones that came at the end of a blade when one least expected it.
This is a fast-paced novella chock full of intrigue, murder, and the fantastic. De Bodard thrusts the reader into her Dominion of the Fallen universe head-first and expects them to sink or swim to keep up. Personally, I found it to be an energetic experience; as this was my first introduction to her world, there was something new on each page to keep me eagerly flipping the page for more. An underwater Vietnamese dragon city below Paris? Crab shifters? Possible poisonings? I was here for it at every turn.
Truly, though, it’s not the worldbuilding that carries this novel. It’s the two main characters: Thuan, a dragon shifter prince, and Asmodeus, a Fallen angel. Their relationship is complex and charming, with Thuan’s bookish nature often grating against the impetuous, violent ways of Asmodeus. Being surrounded by Thuan’s extended family is something of a challenge for Asmodeus, given that he’s more of a “solve problems by stabbing” sort of person. Here, however, he must exercise at least a small amount of diplomacy if they’re meant to find the murderer hiding in a house of conniving dragons.
I’m eager to read more of Aliette de Bodard’s work, especially the books focused on Asmodeus and Thuan.
Thank you to SFWA for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
About the Author
Aliette de Bodard writes speculative fiction: she has won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards, and was a double Hugo finalist. Her most recent book is Seven of Infinities (Subterranean Press), a space opera in which a poor principled scholar and a disillusioned sentient spaceship must solve a murder, but find themselves falling for each other. She also wrote Fireheart Tiger (Tor.com, Feb 2021), a sapphic romantic fantasy set in a Vietnamese-esque court. She lives in Paris.