Book Thoughts

Reading: House of Shattered Wings

The House of Shattered Wings Book Cover The House of Shattered Wings
Aliette de Bodard
Fiction
Gollancz
July 28, 2016
432

 

I had been waiting for this book forever. Aliette posted a snippet of what turned out to be the first page of this book on her blog before it was published, and I was in love. The prose in the rest of the books is just as gorgeous.

I felt that it was a bit of a slower story, but there was something that kept pulling me through the book (I couldn't identify any one thing). The story is set in an alternate-world Paris after a war between the Angels who have now come to earth. Yup biblical angels with wings, including the Morning Star himself. The mystery of what happened to Morning Star, and the push/pull of whether or not he is good/bad, justified/manipulator was very compelling, and I'm not sure what I think about the character, even after reading the book.

I also enjoyed how Vietnamese folklore and culture featured in the story. It just happened to be part of the character, rather than to be the point of the story. There were times where I felt the main character, who is Vietnamese, had to explain himself/mythology/magic to everyone (and the reader vicariously), because the reader is not expected to know much about it. As a writer with Asian heritage, I think I'm a bit sensitive to this kind of author's world building dilemma: the audience is expected to be European or North American.

In summary, this is a beautifully written, dark, post-apocalyptic story where mythologies intersect and clash.

7 Comments

  1. I have been meaning to read this one since it came out, but my reading has been taking me to some strange places where I don’t necessarily keep an eye out for what novels are coming out right now. I was wondering how Aliette handled the inclusion of a non-dominant mythology few people know anything about – myself included. On one hand I do regret there’s a lot of out-of-character explanation. On the other, maybe it will serve as an introduction to people, who then will start reading about it? IDK. How much did you like it? Your review seems a bit ambivalent.

    1. I enjoyed it! It’s beautifully written and well crafted. I do tend to prefer characters who aren’t loners and engage more with other characters, but that’s a personal preference. Liked it enough to read the follow up and see what develops.

    2. I’d have disagreed with you on this before, but having read the Hexslinger books by Gemma Files recently, I say that a good cast that interacts together is now my favorite thing. Of course, it has to be done really well.

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