The House of Shattered Wings: Hark! The Fallen Angels Sing

Title: The House of Shat­tered Wings

Author: Aliette de Bodard

Ele­va­tor pitch: A mys­te­ri­ous young man of unknown mag­i­cal ori­gin, strand­ed in Paris and cap­tured by the most pow­er­ful fall­en angel fac­tion, is forced to hunt a super­nat­ur­al killer.

Why did I pick this book up? Typ­i­cal­ly, I don’t read angel books. But I was will­ing to give fall­en angels in an alter­nate real­i­ty 1930s Paris a chance.

Main Char­ac­ters: Philippe is for­eign­er strand­ed in Paris try­ing to sur­vive with­out call­ing too much atten­tion to him­self. Then he gets caught try­ing to main­line fall­en angel blood, a high­ly addic­tive a pow­er­ful mag­ic-induc­ing drug.

Isabelle has the most recent, but fad­ing, con­nec­tion to Heav­en. She is the newest fall­en angel who hits the pave­ment in the first chap­ter and near­ly becomes sav­aged for her potent blood.

Selene inher­it­ed a bro­ken fac­tion when their great leader went for a walk and nev­er came back. She is in over her head and is des­per­ate­ly try­ing to hold her fac­tion togeth­er.

Made­line is the most capa­ble alchemist in the city, but also a tor­ment­ed angel-drug addict try­ing to for­get the hor­ri­ble things that have hap­pened to her dur­ing her ser­vice to angels.

Thoughts and Mus­ings
Have you ever watched a movie where the two hours lead­ing up to the end­ing cred­its feel like pro­logue, and you think “This is where the movie should have start­ed. Right here. This would be real­ly inter­est­ing to see what hap­pens next.” This sto­ry begins after The End.

The House of Shat­tered Wings is an after­math sto­ry. It’s set in an alter­nate Paris dur­ing the 1930s where the fall­en angels of Heav­en have set up an empire, near­ly destroyed them­selves and every­one else in a civ­il war between fac­tions, and their great­est leader has dis­ap­peared. The main events lead­ing up to the sto­ry have already hap­pened, and now the char­ac­ters are deal­ing with the fall­out. It’s like read­ing about Rome in the imme­di­ate years after its col­lapse.

Start­ing here is a big risk for the author to take. What­ev­er comes next has to be at least as com­pelling as all the back­sto­ry. I think against the odds, it works.

At its core, The House of Shat­tered Wings is sim­ple who-done-it mys­tery. Someone/something is killing peo­ple and the char­ac­ters have to find and stop the killer. Com­pared to the back­sto­ry, this doesn’t sound near­ly as inter­est­ing. How­ev­er, Bodard sur­rounds the mys­tery with lay­ers on lay­ers of com­pli­cat­ed pol­i­tics, ques­tions of faith, con­flict­ing rela­tion­ships, and inter­sect­ing world mytholo­gies. And as the mys­tery begins to unrav­el, it inter­sects with sev­er­al pre-nov­el plot­lines. This inter­sec­tion helps keep the main sto­ry­line as com­pelling as the pre-book sto­ry­line.

House of Shat­tered wings is the first in a series, but it works as a solo nov­el. The end­ing has a sat­is­fac­to­ry con­clu­sion. When the next book comes out, I’ll pick it up.

Please, share your thoughts.

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