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GAH. I don’t even know where to begin. What IS THIS BOOK? Part mystery, part alternate history, part urban fantasy, part gorgeous mythic fantasy. As in her Obsidian & Blood series, de Bodard manages to steep a solid mystery in layers of myth and magic. Here, she pulls out all the stops: Christian mythology (FALLEN ANGELS), Vietnamese folklore (DRAGONS), and even some GREEK MYTHOLOGY (no spoilers, teehee). Every character was so well-drawn, and even when I didn’t like them (or almost hated them, in Selene’s case), I understood their motives. Philippe has the distinction of being the first heartfelt and strongly sympathetic (AND COMPELLING AND BADASS) male fantasy character I’ve read in a long time. Madeleine frustrated and saddened me, but I LOVED her story arc, and the brand of alchemy presented in this book was…beautiful. Isabelle was another frustrating one (I found everyone frustrating in some of their interactions with Philippe because imperialism, and the condescension, lack of understanding, etc) but I ultimately found her interesting. And of course, the novel was populated by a host of amazing secondary characters as well, both human and Fallen (and dragon). And the ruined Paris setting was SUMPTUOUS. ***A side note: I can’t help thinking of this as a lowkey RPG. Start off choosing between playing as human or Fallen, and pick one of the 4 main Houses for certain skillsets, etc. ANYWAYS, random thought. The setting would certainly be mesmerizing as a video game.

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