Thursday, July 16, 2020

Short Novella Reviews: Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders and In the Vanishers' Palace

Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders
(Dominion of the Fallen #3.5)
Aliette de Bodard
Release: July 7, 2020
Goodreads Amazon
From the author of the critically acclaimed Dominion of the Fallen trilogy comes a tale of dragons, and Fallen angels—and also kissing, sarcasm and stabbing.

Lunar New Year should be a time for familial reunions, ancestor worship, and consumption of an unhealthy amount of candied fruit.

But when dragon prince Thuan brings home his brooding and ruthless husband Asmodeus for the New Year, they find not interminable family gatherings, but a corpse outside their quarters. Asmodeus is thrilled by the murder investigation; Thuan, who gets dragged into the political plotting he’d sworn off when he left, is less enthusiastic.

It’ll take all of Asmodeus’s skill with knives, and all of Thuan’s diplomacy, to navigate this one—as well as the troubled waters of their own relationship….

A sparkling standalone book set in a world of dark intrigue.

A Note on Chronology
Spinning off from the Dominion of the Fallen series, which features political intrigue in Gothic devastated Paris, this book stands alone, but chronologically follows The House of Sundering Flames. It’s High Gothic meets C-drama in a Vietnamese inspired world—perfect for fans of The Untamed, KJ Charles, and Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves.

I enjoyed the heck out of this novella! I'm going to be honest. I haven't read the series that this novella belongs to but I was assured that it could standalone. And while I think it did a good job of that, I feel like I could have appreciated it more if I'd read the original series. I still loved it a lot though! 

I found the worldbuilding and characters in this to be intriguing! It was nice reading a story set around an established married couple especially since their dynamic can be summed up as the murder husband and the bookish one. Want to take a guess about who saves the day?

The mystery was intriguing and filled with murder which I'm kind of here for. I immediately went and bought the first book of the trilogy after finishing this novella because I have an unholy need to learn more about this world as well as Asmodeus and Thuan and House Hawthorn. This story just upended my reading plans and I'm not even mad about it.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4 / 5 Stars

In the Vanishers' Palace
Aliette de Bodard
Release: October 16, 2018
In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land...

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets...

Review: I’m always here for a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Make it a queer version of the story and I’m definitely going to read it.

This one turned the fairy tale on its head a bit but the bare bones were there under the story. Plus the beast is a dragon and a woman! The worldbuilding is intriguing and dark and the "Beast's castle" is a setting full of WTFery. I loved that this was a f/f romance! But the romance was just a small portion of the story and features characters who identify as bi, lesbian, and nonbinary and are characters of color. This novella explored what means to be family and had an awesome mother and child dynamics on multiple fronts.

Also, the writing is beautiful and adds so much to the atmosphere of the book. I’m slowly making my way through all of Aliette de Bodard’s work and all of it has been fantastic so far! This is my favorite story of hers so far though.

  4 / 5 Stars

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