ARC Review: Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard

ARC Review: Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette de BodardOf Charms, Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard

Published by JABberwocky Literary Agency on June 28th 2022
Also by this author: In the Vanishers’ Palace, The Tea Master and the Detective (The Universe of Xuya), Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, The Citadel of Weeping Pearls, Fireheart Tiger, Seven of Infinities, The Red Scholar's Wake
Pages: 110

From the author of the critically acclaimed Dominion of the Fallen trilogy comes a sparkling new romantic adventure full of kissing, sarcasm and stabbing.

It was supposed to be a holiday, with nothing more challenging than babysitting, navigating familial politics and arguing about the proper way to brew tea.

But when dragon prince Thuan and his ruthless husband Asmodeus find a corpse in a ruined shrine and a hungry ghost who is the only witness to the crime, their holiday goes from restful to high-pressure. Someone is trying to silence the ghost and everyone involved. Asmodeus wants revenge for the murder; Thuan would like everyone, including Asmodeus, to stay alive.

Chased by bloodthirsty paper charms and struggling to protect their family, Thuan and Asmodeus are going to need all the allies they can—and, as the cracks in their relationship widen, they'll have to face the scariest challenge of all: how to bring together their two vastly different ideas of their future...

A heartwarming standalone book set in a world of dark intrigue.

A Note on Chronology
Spinning off from the Dominion of the Fallen series, which features political intrigue in Gothic devastated Paris, this book stands alone, but chronologically follows Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders. It’s High Gothic meets C-drama in a Vietnamese inspired world—perfect for fans of Mo Xiang Tong Xiu's Heaven Official's Blessing, KJ Charles, and Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves.

Cover design: Ravven

Thank you to the author, Aliette de Bodard, for an ARC copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you already know I love Aliette’s books. Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances is no different. Our star couple, Thuan and Asmodeus, is back with more mysteries to solve. A ghost appears when they’re babysitting, and you already know things will go wrong. Thuan and Asmodeus bicker and argue a lot, but try to hide it from the children. They’re so stubborn, and the angry whispers in the dark create a tension unlike any other. The chemistry between them is intoxicating and you almost forgot there was someone who wanted to harm them. Note: all of the children survive Asmodeus’ whims.

The thing I love about Aliette’s shorter work is her mastery of words. There’s not a lot of space for intricate worldbuilding with long exposition, but she knows her way of conveying just the right amount of detail to make the world vibrant and alive. And even if you’ve read the Dominion of the Fallen books and the previous Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, you’ll still see more of the world you hadn’t seen before. For this reason, I can’t wait for the next one, if there will be a next one.

I give Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances five stars. It’s another novella you can enjoy as a standalone in a fantastic world with great characters. It’s a nice break between grand epic stories or heavy-themed thrillers. I recommend this to anyone who wants short fantasy and loves Asian inspired (specifically Vietnamese) stories.

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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