Title: The House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen #1)
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Genres: Fantasy | Mystery | Paranormal | Science Fiction
Length: 402 pages | 5189 locations
Philippe lives in a post-apocalyptic Paris, one devastated by the big war between Houses of Fallen angels, trying to survive as independently as possible.
His encounter with a recent Fallen will see his relative freedom come to an end, as he is taken prisoner by a capricious Head of a House who wants to both punish him and know his secrets. Philippe will struggle to break free, while dealing with unknown forces wanting to destroy the house that holds him prisoner and trying to convince everyone he did not intentionally cause such evil to be unleashed.
Well, one more that drew me in because of the gorgeous cover. You would have thought I had learned my lesson by now.
It took me a while to get adjusted to the narrative. The sentences were very long and descriptive, and the author did not waste time with proper introducing of the characters and what exactly they could do. Since they were all very foreign concepts, I felt overwhelmed. There were angels and alchemists and magicians and immortals and witches and fallen and others, each with their own abilities or lack thereof, and then there were Houses and gangs and Ammen and Heaven and the City…
The book wasn’t badly written per se. The descriptions of Paris were definitely well conceived, as was the contrast between said decay and the House’s struggle for appearances. The concept of all Fallen being arrogant made sense, as did a few other things. At this point I really cannot tell much more because my brain is still jumbled from all the stuff that went on. I felt that it should have been more clear what each character, or chaste, or whatever you want to call it, had the ability to do, so that when something happens that is uncharacteristic it is obvious and an explanation of what the heck went on would be nice as well.
Maybe I am just not able to appreciate this kind of literature with angels and whatnot. Or maybe it just felt like too much for one book. I would have preferred a more focused storyline. I wanted to know more about certain characters, while others I felt did not add much to the story. There was definitely mystery and suspense but every single character seemed to have an agenda and I left the book wondering what the heck it was for most of them.
I also yearned for a more engaging pace. Just when things were beginning to get interesting, there came another bout of lines and lines of description. Take a look at this one single line: At the back, behind the dais, was what looked like a secretary of wood inlaid with gold tracings, adorned with two large porcelain vases, and a large three-tiered bronze container with elaborate handles, and a crouching lion at the top of its dome, and two incense sticks in a hollow halfway up the structure. Pretty? Yes. Sadly, after waiting ages for something exciting to happen, you lost me at secretary.
This would go on several times, where I just felt I kept reading the same sentence or paragraph over and over, and could not move on because I did not want to skim but also felt stuck. So yes, I would say the book dragged on.
Also, I could never really connect to any of the characters. Just when one was beginning to gain more depth, the storyline would change. When it got back to that character, some of the previous things would be repeated. And I was sitting there like… ‘Ok… Is there anything more to you?’
There could have been something special between the main two, for instance, and it did not necessarily have to be any romance, just something more. And yet you start with these two characters, neither of whom belonging anywhere, who somehow share this incredible link that binds them and makes them vow to keep each other safe and somehow that wanes throughout the story and you don’t even know why because there’s so much stuff going on.
Most likely it was all the darkness. I have read my shared of dark books and enjoyed some quite a lot, but this story just seemed pointless no matter where I turned. There was either vengeance or darkness or hopelessness or power struggles. Not one single light at the end of the tunnel. Even the main character yearns to return to a place where he knows he won’t be welcomed. Man, talk about bleak.
I enjoy post-apocalyptic literature but this was just too much. As it is, I am afraid this one will not stay in my memory for long and I have to admit I have no interest in reading the sequels.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from Apr 04 to Apr 10, 2016