House of Binding Thorns – Aliette De Bodard Review

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 fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

Why did I pick this up?: Okay, so this one is the second book in a series and I read the first a while back, where it is now sitting on my shelf smugly demanding to be joined by its partner. I picked up the first because Paris, fallen angels, magic, LGBT, dragons, fantasy? You’ve got me there.

Good points: I have to talk about it… Madeleine’s addiction. That was done SO WELL. So well-written, in fact, that I could see bits of people I’ve known within it. (For reference, I used to volunteer in addiction services, so I know where I’m coming from). The relationships between characters were incredible. I won’t give spoilers, but there’s something that happens throughout the book, accumulating right at the end, that is so much a twisted and so easily toxic and dark relationship and I hate it but I love it at the same time. Thuan’s growth throughout is amazing, as is the determination of Phillippe… the ruthlessness of the Hawthorne house… I could talk for hours, but this is supposed to be a short review.

Quibbles: Seriously? I’m struggling hard. All I can say is that it’s very political. Which to me is a good point, but to some of the people who like similar things to me, might get boring. Honestly, though, it was done so well it didn’t matter.

Overall (TL;DR): Do read. Maybe read the first book first (The House of Shattered Wings), but absolutely this book did not disappoint!

-K Hart


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