The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette De Bodard
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.