This is probably the book with the sharpest decline in quality I have ever read. The first half of its 399 pages was original and amazing. Sadly, the second half didn’t live up to what its author had set up. The House of Shattered Wings is the first book of Aliette de Bodard I’ve read, and I came to it with high expectations: most reviews are glowing. I was also intrigued by the world building it promised: a novel set in an alternative reality Paris, 20th century, in ruins after a magical war. The city is ruled by a few Houses, factions of fallen angels, arcane creatures that wield magical power, at least in this part of the world.
The first 100 pages are truly promising: the world, the characters and the mystery at the core of the story all seem interesting. There’s also beautiful prose, and awesome, intuitive systems of magic.
It left her hands, a barely distinguishable tremor, a pinpoint that became a raised line, and then a rift across the faded ceramic tiles that would tear the girl apart.
Yet after 100 pages more, it gradually becomes clear that the story is only build around one or two things: the mystery of who put a curse on the oldest and most powerful House, and the question of how the curse will eventually play out. When I reached the end, my main thought was: was this it? That’s all there is to it? That wouldn’t have been such a problem if there would have been character development, or a complex world, or depth to emotions. As you can guess, I found none. Continue reading