I’m fond of de Bodard’s writing style. Though I bounced off the first book in this universe, The House of Shattered Wings, it did not stop me from enjoying this novella. De Bodard is an anthropologist by training, and I think it leads her to bring a thoughtful and wide-ranging approach to her world-building. It feels both more comprehensive then the average fantasy and less exhausting than the average Sanderson. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to her writing, but the other aspect that draws me in are her diverse and interesting characters.
‘Thuan,’ Asmodeus said. His voice was quiet, matter of fact. It was that, more than anything else, hwich made Thuan look up with his heart in his throat–the very idea that something was serious enough that his husband wouldn’t have any sarcasm for it.
‘You have one extra child among your charges.’
Both this and the prior novella, Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, center upon a gay couple that comes from fairly extreme backgrounds–not quite Romeo and Juliet, but something near. Thuan is a dragon prince, and Asmodeus a fallen angel, although, again, don’t let that sideline you (I have something of a prejudice against heavenly hosts). In both novellas, the couple is residing with Thuan’s family for both social and policial reasons, and court politics are a component of both books. Though the prior novella became bogged down in court details, this focuses more on the murder and the characters involved, so I felt greater tolerance for it.
I liked it. I think de Bodard gives just enough background into the history of the leads and their respective societies that I was curious, but not overwhelmed, and dives into the action relatively quickly. And despite being told the was Asmodeus was a bit of a bastard, it was rather sweet to see the level of care and concern he took for the ghost. Even more fascinating was how de Bodard took it to another level with the couple’s relationship. Oh yes; and a decent mystery, if a bit super-villian for my taste. But still good.