Review: The House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen #1) by Aliette de Bodard

Release Date: August 20th 2015
Published By: Gollancz
Pages: 320
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.

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

Review: Filled with mystery and curses, ruined cities and broken angels, The House of Shattered Wings is dark and eery, where the magical war-torn element of this story is captivating, the setting is hauntingly gorgeous and the fallen have fallen very far indeed.

Set the ruins of Paris, this visualisations within this story are devastatingly beautiful. Paris has been ruined by war and magic, gangs roam the unsafe streets and Houses of fallen angels rule it all. The Houses offer equal measures of protection and fear - where the fallen rule with brutality and god-like complexes. Competing with each other for power and magic, the Houses have ruined humanity as it once was, and are on the verge of ruining themselves.

The House of Shattered Wings follows the POV of multiple characters which gives a full understanding what it is like to live in this world. The characters are all completely different, but equally as complex and fascinating. But really, this is Phillipe’s story. Phillipe is a mysterious young man with a fascinating secret. He came to Paris as a solider, fighting a fight that wasn’t his, and has since lived on the streets determined to never become the property of one of the Houses. But fate will bring Phillipe to the Silverspires House, and as much Phillipe wants nothing to do with the fallen angels who hold him captive, the head of the house is determined to unlock Phillipe’s secrets.

But we also get to follow Isabelle, a “young” fallen angel who right from the very beginning is tied to Phillipe. Isabelle is innocent, full of principles, and has just enough kindness and humanness to make Phillipe rethink his views of the Fallen. We also get to follow one of Silverspire’s alchemists, Madeleine, who has lived to see horrors and has yet to learn that true horrors never really leave.

Most of the story is set around the house of Silverspires. Silverspires is the oldest and most powerful house, the remerants of the once great and powerful Morningstar. Morningstar has been missing for over 20 years, which leaves the destiny of Silverspires in the hands of Selene. But Selene’s determination might just be her undoing - as at the same time as the arrival of Phillipe, a curse has been unleashed upon Silverspires - one that may just ruin them all.

However the curse is not the only thing that Silverspires has to worry about - there are political games to be dealt with. The Houses are always looking for ways to obtain domination, and these games will not stop until all but one House is standing. Along with this, there are mysterious deaths, the Fallen are still at risk of being used for angel essence, the magic is dwindling, and Morningstar is still missing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story arc of this book, however, for those who like to understand why they are in a post-apocalyptic type setting, you may find yourselves a little disappointed. There are little details that fully explain why things are the way they are, or why a character is who or where they are… so as long as you can be happy knowing you are there and you are happy to mainly look forward, you will love this story (there are however prequel novellas for this book for those who like background). There were certainly some questions left unanswered, and some twists of the storyline opened up a few new ones, so I am certainly looking forward to the unnamed sequel.

There were just so many things to love about this book. The world building is fantastic, with scenes overflowing with descriptions that conjure the images of a beautiful but broken Paris. The story is told with wonderful prose, with a slow but interesting flow of the story. I was captivated by The House of Shattered Wings from beginning to end.

With a combination of mythologies and folklore, The House of Shattered Wings is filled with beautiful descriptive settings, interesting and diverse characters, magic and the alchemy. It is a place where Paris is dark, beautiful, ruined and magical… just like the Fallen who rule it.



Side note: Oh, and look at that cover! So beautiful!!



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