ARC Review: In The Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

ARC Review: In The Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de BodardIn the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

Published by JABberwocky Literary Agency on October 16 2018
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From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land...

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets...

Aliette de Bodard was kind enough to send me an ARC of In The Vanishers’ Palace in exchange for an honest review. I requested it shortly after she did the cover reveal of this amazing book. She promoted it as ‘an f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a dragon’. That, and knowing it was written by Aliette de Bodard was enough for me to want this book.

I’ve been wanting to read more diverse books and In The Vanishers’ Palace has it all. Non-binary characters, Vietnamese culture, a female romance, and all incredibly well-written. The thoughtfulness she’s put into all of these areas is amazing. The characters are introduced with their pronouns as Yên learns them and used comfortably in the rest of the book. She does it naturally and that’s how it should be in real life as well.

If you don’t know this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, you might not recognise it at first. It doesn’t really matter, because the story in itself is an echanting tale. Yên is being taken by a dragon as a payment for a favour, but the attraction between the two was already there before that and Stockholm Syndrome is no longer relevant (as it was in other versions). I only wish to see more of Yên and Vu Côn together and how they’re doing with the transformation into a hospital.

De Bodard always amazes me with how well she integrates Viet culture into her stories. So far I’ve only read parts of The House of Shattered Wings and The Tea Master and the Detective (amazing Sherlock-inspired sci-fi story!), but the love she puts in them is clear. Her research is thourough and she wants correct translations for Viet words. De Bodard is excellent in creating a new world based on existing cultures and places without disregarding their importance. I honestly believe that her stories are magic and that her books will be to me as an adult what Harry Potter was to me as a teenager.

About Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories which have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire, inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (Roc/Gollancz, 2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace/Gollancz, 2017 European Science Fiction Society Achievement Award, Locus award finalist). (Photo taken by Lou Abercrombie)

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