The House of Shattered Wings
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Gollancz!
Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.
House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, 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, a alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…
It's just gone 3am and I've literally just finished this book, and I think I'm still trying to process what I've just read. It's unlike anything I have ever read before, I'm not usually one for murder mysteries or crime books, but this can only be described as a murder mystery. But it's the ultimate murder mystery and perfect for readers like me, who are more in to the fantasy genre. The scale of the book is immense, the world is painstakingly crafted and it oozes originality in spares. I'm not entirely sure if this is a standalone or the start of a series, but I'm rather hoping for the latter. I kinda feel like I've absorbed some of the characters from the book which is why I'm typing rather poshly rather than my usual fangirling screeching!
In the book all the Fallen angels, who have divided in to Houses, had a war around about the time of WW1 I think, if my understanding of the book was correct. Now it's a good chunk of time later and the fallout of that war, Paris is looking a bit worse for wear, it could be said. The backdrop of this crumbling, decaying version of Paris certainly lent a gothic feel to the book. The world of the book, this alternate Paris was very well created, and brought to life. I've never been to Paris unfortunately, but I could picture how it looked, I was completely pulled in to the world. The world building was just so vivid and very well crafter that I couldn't not be. Not to mention the atmosphere. There was SUCH an atmosphere to this book, I mean it seeped off the pages and lent this whole dark, element to the book.
Like I said, the book is original. The setting, the world, it's not the first fallen angel story, but it's the premise and the murder mystery element of it and how the Fallen are done that lends it an originality and makes it interesting and makes it stand out from the crowd. There's so many interesting elements to the book, and not just writing/genre wise, creature wise. Many are mentioned. We meet two. One of them I won't mention because it was a plot twist that I didn't see coming and I actually put the book down and was like "no way, how did I not get that" being obsessed with this certain mythology. I will say that while it followed the mythology, it was done in a very dark and twisty kind of way, an original way, that's probably a lot closer to the truth of it than how it's often portrayed in other books and movies etc.
The other creature we meet is dragons. I love dragons, I really do, and these dragons where fantastic. They're not Game of Thrones "RARGH" large dragons, they're more...kind of traditional Chinese dragons? I loved this take on them, this imagining of them, and I particularly liked they're little kingdom and the atmosphere it had and how it was as decaying as the city. Kind of makes you take a long hard look at yourself and pollution in general because I'm fairly certain that's how the fish feel when we dump all our crap in their home. Sorry to get real world problems, but it was a thought that I had.
We get a few different POV's, they switch smoothly and with perfect timing. I was reading a proof, and they kind of all ran as one. Some of them I'd be able to tell where a different character, but other times I did get a mite confused over who it was talking, but I'm assuming that in the actual copy of the book there'll be those little page break asterisks that'll let you know a particular section has ended, so it's not really a thing.
The characters where all interesting, very interesting, and very full of depth. I enjoyed them all, whether I liked them or not. I mean Selene...kinda didn't like her, but I did kind of get her and her motives. But still....didn't really like her, but then I'm not sure if I was supposed to? To be honest, I spent the vast majority of the book feeling how Phillipe did, you could say I was on his side, but I did share his view point, and I really got where he was coming from. He made good comments, and Selene being a Fallen and so not really human, just didn't get it because she'd do whatever she had to for her House. The conflict was interesting, particularly as you have Isabelle who is a new Fallen and trying to find her place in the House. But it has to be said, I probably connected to Phillipe and Madeline best, and I was fully on Phillipes side.
Madeline I liked, I felt for her so badly with all she had to experience, and her flaws made her so much more realistic. Her flaws also made her so much more human, and it was a stark contrast between her and Selene and the others. Sometimes the Fallen, like Emmanuel, came across as just regular folk, all nice and bookish, Aragon was also a nice Fallen who was more human than the others. Selene and Isabelle however, where distinctly not human and there was something about their voices when they where narrating that broadcast it loud and clear. They just came across as other. But yes, Madeline and Phillipe where my two characters that I supported. There was a twist with Madeline and her old house and I literally had to put the book down and go "WHAT!?!". Lets just say that like Selene, I do not understand Asmodeus one bit. If there's another book though...I'd like to be able to.
Emmanuel I loved because she was all bookish, but I was sad we didn't get to know more of her or see more of her. Isabelle was a hard character for me. I kinda liked her in the beginning, how she treated Phillipe and their strange bond and everything and she seemed like she might be different. But then like, I think halfway through, she started to become like a mini Selene, she wasn't exactly pleasant and I was sad to watch her change so much over the course of the book. So as you can see, the characters are a complex and interesting bunch!
The plot kept me hooked. I was enchanted by the world and the characters, but I was fascinated by the politics of the world of the book. They where complex and very intriguing, not to mention very well written. You understood the politics of the world and the history but there where no overblown, drawn out explanations. The book was compellingly written and had a fast pace. I found myself awake until 4am one night with half the book finished and no clue where the time had gone. I'd just started to read and then something had happened and then something else and then I had to read one more chapter to see what had happened. There was action but not ridiculous amounts. The intrigues of the plot are what will keep you reading until silly times at night.
Something is killing the people of the House but who is behind it and what is it? Phillipe has some of the clues and so you're trying to put it together as you read, I was more focused on it being a spell than an actual thing so didn't even touch that particular mystery, but there where so many plot twists and turns that I didn't see coming that I found myself surprised right until the end. I always wanted to know more. That was the thing. The book kept praying on my mind, tugging me back. It didn't care that I needed to sleep, or needed to do other things, it was just pulling on my sleeve going "read me! read me!", and I did. Because I have no self control.
The House of Shattered Wings is a murder mystery set in a sumptuous and enchanting world, that will draw you in with it's vivid world weaving, and infectious atmosphere. Not to mention the flawed, but deeply interesting characters who are given so many dimensions that you're left wanting to know more. The plot and it's twists will keep you up reading until all hours because you'll just want to read that one more chapter to know what happens to that character you're starting to become attached to, and before you know it the books done and you're squinting at the light wondering when the sun came up!