The House of Shattered Wings - Aliette de Bodard

I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book via a giveaway on Goodreads, however the views expressed in this review about the book are my own.

 

Okay, so let's start with the basics: The House of Shattered Wings is one of the best books I've read this year. The world-building is absolutely fantastic, with the book being set in a Paris which has been devastated by a war involving magic and the involvement of the Fallen, essentially angels who have been cast out of heaven. What is left of Paris is now ruled by various Houses, most of which have a Fallen as their Head, and which are engaged in rivalries that go back years. The focus of the book is House Silverspires, which is centred on Notre Dame and was led by Morningstar, one of the most powerful of the Fallen, but who had disappeared twenty years before this book is set.

 

Because the Fallen are imbued with magic, there is a healthy trade in their body parts and it's because of this we first meet Philippe, who was drafted into the war from his native Annam and subsequently abandoned in Paris by the House he'd once served. Philippe finds himself linked with one of the Fallen and also kept within Silverspires against his will, though he would also admit he doesn't really have anywhere else to go. As The House of Shattered Wings goes on, we discover that Philippe is much more than he appears and that he is also the catalyst for a disaster involving Silverspires that has been years in the making.

 

One of the main themes of the book is about belonging, from Philippe who believes that he no longer belongs anywhere through to Madeleine who discovers that one of her core beliefs about her place in the world is a lie. Silverspires is being destroyed by the aftermath of an act on the part of Morningstar, at times literally ripped apart by one person's quest for vengeance against a group of people to whom they had thought they belonged.

 

I understand there's a sequel in the works but The House of Shattered Wings also works perfectly well as a standalone novel, so don't let the possibility of more stories in this setting put you off picking it up - highly recommended!