Release Date: August 18, 2015
Source: Publisher, First Reads
Multi-award winning author Aliette de Bodard, brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy…
In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. 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 wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.
In this rendition of alternative History, Paris was devastated by a Great War that began in 1914. It was a war waged between competing houses of Fallen Angels and Witches. 60 years have passed, and the city is still in ruins. Stores have been reduced to piles of rubble. Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell of its former self, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. Those that survived the War 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 is House Silverspires which 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 from inside their very own walls. The other Houses led by Hawthorn and Lazarus, are doing what they can to bring the house to its knees. Within the House, three very different people who must come together to save it. There's the naive but powerful Fallen angel (Isabelle); an alchemist originally from Hawthorn House with a self-destructive addiction to angel essence (Madeleine); and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origins (Philippe). They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.
The House of Shattered Wings starts with Philippe finding Isabelle after she FELL and then being bound to House Silverspire by Selene. It ends with an unknown fate for both Philippe and Madeleine. The House under Selene's leadership is also under question. Since there is no indication that this is a standalone or a series, I will just state that its a standalone until proven wrong. In-between, there's a whole lot of stuff that I can't even put my finger on. There's hardly any world building. There's no indication until much later as to why Morningstar left the house. Presumably there was some Massive War between the houses, or as the synopsis claims, the War in Heaven came to Paris and left it in shambles.
Philippe has some interesting things happen to him. He's apparently originally from Indochina (think Vietnam). He was forced into service during the war, and found himself among the gangs when it was all over. He's apparently a mortal turned Immortal and has access to powers nobody has seen before. He uncovers a darkness in the house, and quickly becomes the catalyst needed for the darkness to take hold and destroy the house and those inside its walls. His connection with Isabelle is curious. I can't really say it made any sense. It wasn't a romantic linkage by any means. It was a bond of happenstance and nothing more.
Isabelle fell to the earth, but it's never explained why she fell in the first place. Fallen are all powerful, and humans tend to use their blood and bones for magic. Isabelle finds herself bonded to Philippe, but it is not romantic in any shape or form. Isabelle knows the House is now here home, and chooses to stand by Selene's side against the darkness, and Philippe's indecision. Madeleine's story is even more depressing with her addiction to angel essence. She's supposed to be a powerful alchemist, but spends way to much time being boring.
I don't really hate this book. Rating a book 3 stars is not a bad thing, nor should it be considered a slap at the author or the story. It just fell a bit out of my comfort zone. The story moved at a tortoise pace, and didn't really pick up until the 85 percent mark in the story. There's no resolution to this story either, which is why I'm curious to see if this is a standalone or not. There are too many questions regarding Silverspire, Madeleine, and Philippe's future.
**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (Penguin First Reads) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**