Posts Tagged: Urban Fantasy

Beauty in the Ruins

Juxtaposition is one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s arsenal

One of my favourite novels is Cao Xuequin and Gao E’s Dream of Red Mansions, which has nothing we would recognise as a plot by modern standards: it follows the “twelve beauties of Jinling”, the main characters of a decaying household in China under the Qing dynasty; and juxtaposes and contrasts their experiences to achieve a powerful and moving tapestry of narratives that speak both to the female and human experience.

This act of juxtaposition is one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s arsenal, and one that I’m particularly affectionate towards. A common example is dichotomies for characters: X being a foil for protagonist Y, or the opposites antagonist/protagonist, hero/villain. I prefer to think of it in terms of contrasts, to decentre the story—I go for moral ambiguity very often, and therefore my fiction tends to function in terms of POV characters rather than heroes. Read More »


Holy moly. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t generally expect great things from Roc Books covers. But this? This is just gorgeous. Eloquent and impactful, great little details all around. The House of Shattered Wings is one of my most anticipated novels of the year, and I’m glad to see it has a cover to match my excitement.

The first details about The House of Shattered Wings were released several weeks ago, but now we have a new blurb with more details about the story:

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.

The House of Shattered Wings, the first volume in a duology, is due out on September 1st, 2015 from Roc Books (North America) and Gollancz (UK).


On November 20th, 2014, Aliette de Bodard announced that she sold a two book series, beginning with The House of Shattered Wings to Gollancz. Aliette de Bodard is considered one of the richest and most evocative writers in speculative fiction, and her past work has ranged from Aztec-influenced fantasy, to a science fiction universe where China discovered the Americas before Europe. The House of Shattered Wings is a murder mystery with “fallen angels, Vietnamese dragons, and entirely too many dead bodies.”

“Set in Paris amongst the aftermath of the Great Magicians War,” Gollancz compares the scale of The House of Shattered Wings and de Bodard’s ambition to the works of Mieville and Banks. Big names to live up to, but the Hugo-nominated and Nebula-winning de Bodard has proven her knack for subtlety and ambition with her short fiction, and handling of scope with her epic Acatl novels. Read More »

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA - Pages: 420 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Born with a gift that allows her to enter the minds of other voyants, nineteen year old Paige Mahoney is forced to live a double life

In an alternate, future version of London, Scion rules all. Two hundred years after the Bloody King, Edward VII, reputedly unleashed a plague of clairvoyance on the world, voyants have struggled against the stigma of being unnatural, while normal humans – amaurotics – have worked to oppress and kill them under the auspices of Scion, an all-encompassing, dictatorial government. Born with a gift that allows her to enter the minds of other voyants, nineteen year old Paige Mahoney is forced to live a double life: nominally the privileged daughter of one of Scion’s top scientists, she is known in other circles as the Pale Dreamer, an enforcer for a powerful criminal syndicate of voyants. When an unexpected encounter forces Paige to find a brutal new use for her gifts, she finds herself captured by Scion and taken to an impossible place: the lost city of Oxford, now called Sheol I and repurposed as a penal colony run by the Rephaites, a race of beings whose existence, while known to Scion, is a secret kept from the general human populace. Put into the care of the Warden Arcturus Mesarthim – a powerful Reph with secrets of his own – Paige is forced to contend, not only with the barbaric rules of this strange, parasitic society, but also its politics. For  behind the predations of Scion lurks an even bigger battle: the struggle between the scheming,  eternal Rephaites and the brutal, cannibalistic Emim, a second race seeking entry to our world and held in check only by the combined efforts of Scion, human voyants, and Rephs. With only outcasts for allies, Paige must learn who to trust and how to survive, fast. Because Nashira Sargas, the ruler of Sheol I and Warden’s consort, wants Paige’s gifts for herself – and once she takes them, Paige will die. Read More »

Generation V by M.L. Brennan

Publisher: Roc - Pages: 320 - Buy: Book/eBook
Generation V by M.L. Brennan

Fortitude Scott has a sucky life. His girlfriend is cheating on him with his housemate, his housemate stopped paying rent months ago, his job at the Busy Beans cafe pays barely enough to keep him afloat, and his coworkers are unbearable – plus, he’s a vampire, but without any of the perks. In fact, Fort is more of a fledgeling vampire: sure, he occasionally drinks blood (though only his mother Madeline’s, and only under duress – the rest of the time, he’s a vegetarian), and his elder siblings, Chivalry and Prudence, can’t go out in the daylight, but until Fort transitions, he might as well be human – no super strength, no rapid healing, and definitely no supernatural cool factor.

Oh, and when he was nine years old, Prudence brutally murdered his human foster parents in front of him on Madeline’s orders, because Fort made the mistake of telling them what happened when he went to visit his biological family.

Somewhat understandably, then, Fort is hardly jumping for joy at the prospect of one day becoming a vampire himself. As much as possible, he keeps away from his family and everything they stand for; but when Madeline tempts him with an invitation to meet, for the first time, some vampires to whom he isn’t related  – thereby raising the possibility that not all of his kind are monsters – Fort’s curiosity gets the better of him. The decision quickly ensnares him in vampire politics of the bloodiest kind, and with no one else to back him up, Fort is forced to look for support from an unlikely source: Suzume Hollis, a dangerous kitsune with a wicked sense of humour whom Madeline has paid to keep him safe. When a young girl is threatened, can Fort and Suzume save her without jeopardizing their own lives? Or will they be trapped by yet more vampiric power games? Read More »