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The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de…
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The House of Shattered Wings

by Aliette de Bodard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dominion of the Fallen (1)

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Forgive me if I don't express my thoughts as clearly as possible, it is late and I'm a bit tired and this bright white review box is frying my eyes but I want to get this review done when it is still fresh in my mind.

I think the best word to describe this story is "potential". The premise is very interesting, fallen angels who wield magic are trying to just keep the image of "everything is fine" after a war between Houses that are all filled with Fallen destroys Paris and leaves the non-House people to pick for leftovers in the rubble, throw in street gangs and a couple other ancient mythologies and you get the idea. I really like the authors writing style, very descriptive (especially when describing the magic and how the characters see it) and knows how to immerse the reader in each scene. The addition of Chinese and Roman mythology in this Christian/Catholic fantasy could've been terrible but they blended in pretty well. She also had me incredibly intrigued with each character's story. Phillipe, Madeleine, and Selene all have interesting foundations in this story but this is where the book falls apart.

It's good to have a strong foundation for a character, but to never build on that foundation made the story repetitive and I dare say annoying. I would start really getting into the story but then the character would start bringing up something over and over again. Phillipe for most of the book would not stop talking about going back to his home land Annam and how he couldn't, also seeing visions and ghosts of Morningstar over and over again didn't help. Speaking of Morningstar, Selene would not let go of the fact that Morningstar was not there, I know she is not a confident leader but drilling how much she wanted him there in every one of her scenes was driving me mad, it was 20 YEARS AGO since he left. Madeleine...Madeleine Madeleine, there was a massacre at her old house and she survived, don't worry though she will remind you of this for the whole book, also this event took place 20 YEARS AGO too. I wouldn't mind them bringing these obviously important events up every once and awhile but they don't ever move past them, they are defined by them and won't let go. It got to the point where the mere mention of Morningstar and seeing the name on the page was getting to me.

Sadly there is more, Isabelle was a character I thought would be a focal point in this story but she seemed to disappear and reappear whenever the story needed her to, which was weird because her fall from heaven is the first thing we read in the book. I also would've liked to see her be trained and how she was mastering her powers (just to get some idea how new fallen adjust to their new circumstances), but all we got was vague mentions on what she was doing until the 3rd act where she comes in like a super hero ready to save the world. The shadow/ghost that was the main antagonist of the story confused me about the rules of magic, not only did it come back to life but it can summon ancient Roman monsters, it can infect people to the point where they get visions of it's memories, it can shoot fire, and can use a memory from a person to summon a giant tree... a little much right? All this and the whole book they liked to use the word "impossible", they can't exorcise the ghost...its impossible, you can't summon ancient monsters...its impossible, you can't heal magic snake bites...its impossible, clearly it isn't. In a world full of magic, the word "impossible" shouldn't even be whispered.

Like I said this book has potential, building off the foundation for each character and watching them evolve would've made this reading experience better in my humble opinion. I don't like writing this many bad things (even though there is more) but it does frustrate me when the world is so interesting but it never really gets expanded on. I received this book for free in a giveaway from Good Reads First Reads. ( )
  Wushogun | Nov 30, 2016 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A post-apocalyptic murder mystery that is excellent when dealing with the mystery, but not as great when dealing with other aspects of the plot.

Opening Sentence: It is almost pleasant at first, to be Falling.

The Review:

The world as we know it has been gone for a long time. Fallen angels have taken over, dividing the world into factions known as Houses. Selene is the leader of one such House, having taken over when Morningstar disappeared. One day, Selene happens upon a newly Fallen angel, Isabelle, as she is being mutilated by two gang members. One person gets away, but Selene manages to capture Philippe and bring him back to the House with her and Isabelle. Phillipe, while sorry for the crime that finds him in this position, is very unhappy to find himself once again under house rule. He would do anything to free himself, including making a deal with a rival House. While he’s trying to engineer his escape, a string of murders begins occurring, and it starts to become apparent that there is a dark force present in the House, one intent on revenge upon the House and its members. The question now is, will Philippe stay alive long enough to even be able to escape, or will the dark force take him under as well?

I had a very hard time coming up with a rating for this one. On one hand, I love the premise. I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic worlds, and fallen angels especially fascinate me. Throw in a murder mystery, and I should find myself on cloud nine. And that aspect of the story is done very well. Every scene involving the “dark force” in the House is excellent, full of tension and creepiness. I was on the edge of my seat. However, pretty much everything else wasn’t nearly as fascinating, and I found my attention wandering often. I feel like it may have been an issue of having too much description and not enough character interaction. We’re told Philippe and Isabelle have a bond that arose from their first meeting, but we don’t necessarily see that in play for ourselves. It makes it hard to buy their relationship.

All of my favorite scenes involved the character Madeleine, the House’s alchemist who has become addicted to angel essence in an effort to forget her traumatic past. Being mortal, she seemed to be the most reliable narrator in terms of showing the reader what’s going on with the Fallen. Through her, we see Isabelle begin to change from an innocent newly Fallen angel to a Fallen who knows her place in the world and has the arrogance to go along with it. We see the Madeleine’s past come back to haunt her, and her incapability of escaping it. For me, she was the easiest character to connect to, and I always looked forward to her scenes.

All in all, while this book had some fantastic moments, the duller moments seem to be what I remember most, which is unfortunate. There are some hanging plot threads that have me interested in what will happen next, but I don’t necessarily think I’ll be rushing out to pick up book 2. It will more likely be a “when I get around to it” type of read.

Notable Scene:

Forcing himself to breathe, he moved across the room, bumping into people in his eagerness to keep an eye on mirrors and glass. Every time he moved, the darkness seemed to flow across the room, in empty wineglasses, in mirrors, in spectacles, in diamond pendants and polished silver fob watches; but it disappeared as soon as he tried to focus on it. It was real – rising, searching, sniffing the air like a blind, monstrous worm – something that made the room seem smaller, its air a miasma worse than the polluted clouds near the Seine; something looking for a way in . . .

He came to with a start. He was staring at the seating plan, his hand frozen over Selene’s name – she was at the largest table with the other heads of Houses, of course, but that wasn’t what mattered. Cautiously, he craned his neck to the left and then to the right: nothing but the glitter of light on wineglasses. The darkness was gone, as if it had never been.

But it would be back.

FTC Advisory: Penguin/Roc provided me with a copy of The House of Shattered Wings. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Sep 16, 2016 |
While there were elements of The House of Shattered Wings that I enjoyed, it never fully worked for me. I never felt much of a connection to any of the characters, and the plot wasn’t compelling enough to make up for that absence.

House Silverspires is on the decline. Like all of Europe’s houses, it was brought to the brink of ruin by the war. Although it survived, it is now missing it’s leader, the oldest fallen angel of all, Morningstar. Now, Silverspires is threatened by a dark and shadowy magic, and it’s members are being killed, Fallen and mortal alike.

Selene, Morningstar’s apprentice, is desperately trying to keep her house afloat. Philippe, a former Immortal from Vietnam, has become entangled by Silverspire and stuck in a land he never wanted to be in. Madeline is the House’s alchemist, with a secret addiction to the ground up bones of former angels. These three make up the POV cast of The House of Shattered Wings.

Unfortunately, I never came to care about any of these characters, or even anyone among the supporting cast. I didn’t hate any of our protagonists, but I remained indifferent to them. Even when a major character died, I was unmoved. I can’t come up with an easy explanation for why this is. Based on the short descriptions I’ve given of them, they don’t look uninteresting. Perhaps it’s because only Selene has a clear and specific goal – preserve her house – and it’s not a goal that’s immediately easy to invest in. Or maybe having seen more of characters relationships with each other? Although there are relationships among the characters, it often feels like they’re stated more than shown.

I did like the world building of Fallen among the magical ruins of a post-apocalyptic Paris. However, I would like to know more. The details revealed are really only the ones necessary for the story immediately at hand, but there’s a sense of vastness to this world that I’d like to see explored. I’m also interested in the shape of the world after the destruction of the war. Why is travel so difficult exactly? What’s the houses economic basis? I will consider reading further books in this setting, although I hope they improve upon where The House of Shattered Wings lacks.

I never found the pacing or plot line of The House of Shattered Wings gripping. The climax in particular felt unsatisfyingly sudden, although my inability to invest in the characters or situation may have played a role. Overall, it felt too slow to start and too quick to wrap up.

The imagination of the world that de Bodard has created is what bumps this from three stars to three and a half stars. Although I am unlikely to be recommending this one much in the future, I will investigate whatever de Bodard writes next.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Jun 6, 2016 |
There is so much going on this book that I hardly know where to begin. The world building is excellent. The character flow over time, not really changing but, evolving with the story and the demands it puts on them. The action is slow to build but the tension is very good. The only thing that I did not like about the story was that I think that the author took too long with the ending. I think that she could have ended it 50 pages earlier and had a better story. But that said the ending was not a bad one, just drawn out. The magic of this book is very interesting and I like how the reader does not really know how the world fell into this state. I do not know if this is going to be the beginning of a series or more books set in this world. I did like how de Bodard ended the book. But I would not mind seeing more of this world. It is hinted that only places like Paris are as bad but I would find out for myself. I liked it and I like de Bodard. I look forward to whatever she writes next.

I give this book a Four out of Five stars. ( )
  lrainey | May 10, 2016 |
Review Originally Posted At: FictionForesight

In accordance with current FTC Guidelines, please let it be known this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My how the mighty have Fallen, 3.5 Stars!

The House of Shattered Wings is an artfully crafted tale of myth and legend with lyrical descriptions that are truly heaven sent.

A Quick Summary:

Taking place in the ruins of 1930's Paris, The House of Shattered Wings is an intriguing take on the fall of angels, and their lives after the fact.

Cast out of the kingdom of heaven, angels are now rather abundant on Earth. As Fallen, they still maintain some of their angelic abilities, including the use of "magic". Of course with the Fallen, came a ruination. Fighting ensued and a Great War took place that divided Paris, and nearly ended the city. Out of the ashes, the Great Houses still stand. Although not as strong as they once were, the Houses still provide safety, security, and a place to belong for those lucky enough to be members. Divided up like gangs, the Houses control various territories of the city, and each House has its own rules and traditions. Silverspires is one of these Great Houses.

Now reduced to a mere flicker of its former glory, House Silverspires' very existence is in peril as a shadow of the past threatens its utter and complete destruction. An unlikely threesome of a newly fallen (Isabelle), a human alchemist (Madeleine) and a foreign immortal (Philippe) are all that stand between Silverspires' salvation and it's doom. Will they be able to discover the truth in time? Or will they themselves be the final nail in the once Great Houses' coffin...

The Good:

Before I begin, I think it's important to say that I actually didn't start writing this review until almost two weeks after I finished the book. Now that's not like me. Normally I would only give myself a day or two after reading before reviewing a book. That way the details are still fresh in my mind, but still I had enough time to let things marinate. It helps to ensure that I don't just spew off at the mouth and say the first things that come to mind. I want my reviews to be honest, yes, but still thoughtful.

Now you're probably wondering why I waited so long then for this review. Well frankly, I knew it was going to be a pain in the butt. It's not that I didn't enjoy the book, or that there were so many good or bad things I wanted to say, it's just that it's so very different from what I normally read. I mean the summary alone took me forever simply because I kept trying to say things that I shouldn't have been giving away. If nothing else, read this and take some time to let it wash over you. In those two weeks I changed my opinion of this book several times ranging from 4.5 stars to 2.5 stars. It's just that different. Period.

Alright so now for all the goodies.

This book has one of the most beautifully written worlds I have ever read. Hands down, just amazing. I mean the world-building is so tragic, and yet so poetic. It's hypnotizing in its beauty. The words flow almost lyrically from the page and paint a picture that's equally terrifying and intoxicating in its description, as much as it is in the way it makes you feel. You can see the crumbled heap of Notre Dame. You can smell the toxic dump that is the Seine. I mean let's set aside the fact that this is written with Paris as the setting, and forget that this is historical fiction. Miss Bodard could seriously have written this anywhere, and in any time period, and I would have felt like I was there. Angels on Mars in the 1500's? Sure. Seems like an easy picture to paint for this insanely talented pro.

End fanboying rant.

Any who, so yeah, I liked the world-building. But that's not all I liked!

I'm usually not surprised anymore by "magic" in fantasy books. I mean I read enough of them that I've seen most of what's out there. Now I won't go so far as to say that this book has a completely new system of magic; because it doesn't. But the means for the magic is new to me. The idea that angels are essentially "magic" themselves, and that they can be harvested so that others can utilize magic... that's pretty cool. Admittedly, I was more than a little intrigued. In fact, this is the part that solidified this book for me and made it somewhat memorable. Later on down the line I may not remember names, or exact plot details, but I will remember that.

So descriptions and magic are good, but they need great characters to really matter. Luckily the characters in this book aren't bad. Now, I'm not saying I felt like there couldn't be any improvements, because some of the secondary characters felt boring and rather one-dimensional. However, I felt pretty good about the main three. I mean I didn't relate to any of them, but I understood them and they felt realistic based on their situations. Philippe had a tough and really long life, it only made sense that he was jaded, withdrawn and out-right hostile to his captors. Isabelle was stuck in a very odd situation, being both old (as an angel) and young (as a Fallen). It made sense that she was wishy-washy, but still very attentive to her new home. Madeleine lived every day of her life in fear of reliving a heart-wrenching moment of her past. Giving in to her vice is a logical path to follow. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Speaking of realism.

Gritty realism can be overwhelming if you're not prepared for it. It's not the stuff that fairy tales are made of, but it has it's place. If you want something to feel fuller, I contest it needs to feel like real life. That's the case here. This is still fantasy, but it feels plausible. The nice guy doesn't always win, love doesn't always triumph, and even the most powerful fall. I like that this book pulls no punches in descriptions and dialogue. Semi-reminiscent of Scott Hawkins "The Library at Mount Char". Real can be good... even in fantasy.

Finally, a very quick shout out to the myths and legends. It's obvious that someone did their homework here. Vietnamese water spirits and angels... nice!

The Bad:

So let's do this like removing a bandage, and get this over quick!

Throughout the entire story, I felt this build up. Sure things were relatively slow, but I felt like we were getting someplace. Someplace deeper, and darker, and more mysterious. I kept getting more and more anxious waiting for the big bad thing to be revealed and all heck to break loose. And then when it did, I found myself deflated. I mean sure it was OK but nothing like what I built up in my head. It's like going up a mountain only to discover there isn't a peak, just a plateau. I can't even pretend to hide my disappointment because with all the awesome descriptions I thought for sure this book was going to have some kick butt action scenes. That, however, just isn't the case.

Every once in a while I got to this point while reading that I just didn't care what happened. I found myself sitting there wishing that one of the main characters would die already just to add something to the plot.

I'm dearly hoping that the next book in this series draws more on background information. Despite my early objection to a lack of action, I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to learning more about the Fallen, the immortals and how the world came to be in the state it's in now. I mean yes I get the basics of it already, but we really don't know why the angels fell. Was it because of the traditional bible story? Or was it for some other reason? Some times less is more, but in this case less descriptions and more story / action would have been the way to go. At least in my humble opinion.

Other:

Boy, it's been awhile since I've done an "other" section in a review. Normally I'd just find a spot somewhere in the existing sections to say what it is I have to say, but this time I wanted it separate.

So this is not a good or a bad thing, just something I noticed. Even though we were told Morningstar (the founder of the House Silverspires) was / is Lucifer, I guess it never really stuck. I just find this depiction of Lucifer to be so fascinating. He's not the evil end-all bad guy that traditional Christianity (and stories) make him out to be, but rather more of a general to a different set of troops. Disregarding whatever happened to actually make him fall (whether it's the traditional tale or a new twist), while he was on Earth he didn't seem all the evil. More benevolent, and almost above it all. Almost disassociated with feelings, and rather goal-oriented.

It actually freaked me out a bit because I kept finding myself saying "yep, I think I would have done that too", and then I would realize what character I was agreeing with. Funny, but true.

Overall:

Alright so bottom line. Is this book worth reading? Yes. Will it blow your socks off? The descriptions and world-building may. The characters might give you a gentle breeze. But ultimately I would have to say no. For me there just wasn't enough action, or even the appropriate background information. Had we spent a little less time reading descriptions (as beautiful as they were) and more time actually progressing, I would have given this book a higher rating for sure! Will I read the next book? Probably, if only to find out more about the world. I could give or take any characters really, but the world in general is fantastic!

(www.FictionForesight.com) ( )
1 vote FictionForesight | Apr 26, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aliette de Bodardprimary authorall editionscalculated
Auerbach, AdamCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoteling, SpringDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
NekroCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my son, the snakelet, for showing me magic and wonder
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It is almost pleasant, at first, to be Falling.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Fallen and mortals
fight magical curse in the
ruins of Paris.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451477383, Hardcover)

Multi-award winning author Aliette de Bodard, brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy…

In the late twentieth century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins, the aftermath of a Great War between arcane powers. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:00:20 -0400)

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