In the Vanisher’s Palace

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Aliette de Bodard’s In the Vanisher’s Palace is a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast—available October 16th from JABberwocky.

 

 

Chapter 1
Fish, Gate, River, Storm

The first inkling that things were going wrong was when the voices in Oanh’s room fell silent.

To Yên ...

Five of the Creepiest Monsters in Fantasy Fiction

One of the reasons I read fantasy is for the sense of awe—for that stop-breath feeling I get when Silchas Ruin rises up as a dragon in the Malazan Book of Fallen; when Aude explores the silent and wondrous world of the Grass King’s Palace in Kari Sperring’s The Grass King’s Concubine; when Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring gaze upon the heart of Lothlorien in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

But the flipside of awe is terror—because magic produces things that are dark and scary in addition to wonderful; and because, in any wonder, there is a sense of something largely beyond the familiar, something unknowable and not playing by the rules we’re used to; because spells and creatures that loom impossibly large and impossibly wondrous are also creatures that could destroy you, turn on you, or be twisted into something else. And there’s definitely plenty of ...

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red-seas
uprooted
coraline
atrix-wolfe

Unfamiliar Rooms: Magic and Dread in Kari Sperring’s The Grass King’s Concubine

Kari Sperring is, insofar as I’m concerned, a criminally under-appreciated writer. She has a rare gift for making worlds feel lived-in: her settings always feel as though they are very much larger, as though the story happens to focus on one character or another, but there are a dozen, a hundred others just outside the wings, living their lives in a city or in a place that really exists somewhere. In The Grass King’s Concubine, she displays this gift for worldbuilding, not through people, but through a place: WorldBelow is an alien splendour, a fairytale world where The Grass King, the mythical ruler of spring and the harvest, lives with his court. In Sperring’s novel, the eponymous concubine has vanished alongside most of the court, and Aude, a woman dragged into the palace of WorldBelow, must figure out what went wrong while her husband Jehan goes after her. While ...

The House of Binding Thorns

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As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear….

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or ...

Lullaby for a Lost World

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< p class="frontmatter">Charlotte died to shore up her master’s house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance.   They bury you at the bottom of the gardens—what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh—at your broken bones—and sings you to sleep in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies, whispering of rest and forgiveness, of a place where it is forever light, forever safe. You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe—you never were. After your friends have gone, scattering their meager offerings of flowers, after the ...

On Colonialism, Evil Empires, and Oppressive Systems

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This post on colonialism depicted in genre fiction originally appeared on Aliette de Bodard’s personal blog on September 18th.

So this is only half a rant, because to properly do this I would need to document (a lot), and to reread stuff (a lot, too). But I’ve been simultaneously reading some genre books, and researching the French colonization of Vietnam in the 19th Century (and the history of SE Asia in that time period; aka researching book 2, the sequel to The House of Shattered Wings), and the contrast is… stark.

Let me put it bluntly. A lot of depictions out there miss the mark by a rather large margin. The things I see a lot: our hero(es) fighting and overthrowing the colonial system. Our hero(es), whether colonist or colonised, being almost exempt of colonial prejudice. Clean, simple fights for independence where the people rise against their oppressors and ...

Five of the Creepiest Monsters in Fantasy

other-mother-coraline

One of the reasons I read fantasy is for the sense of awe—for that stop-breath feeling I get when Silchas Ruin rises up as a dragon in the Malazan Book of Fallen; when Aude explores the silent and wondrous world of the Grass King’s Palace in Kari Sperring’s The Grass King’s Concubine; when Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring gaze upon the heart of Lothlorien in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

But the flipside of awe is terror—because magic produces things that are dark and scary in addition to wonderful; and because, in any wonder, there is a sense of something largely beyond the familiar, something unknowable and not playing by the rules we’re used to; because spells and creatures that loom impossibly large and impossibly wondrous are also creatures that could destroy you, turn on you, or be twisted into something else. And there’s definitely plenty of ...

shattered-pillars
red-seas
uprooted
coraline
atrix-wolfe

The House of Shattered Wings

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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 ...

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