Published by Subterranean Press on March 31st 2018
Also by this author: In the Vanishers’ Palace, Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, The Citadel of Weeping Pearls
Genres: Science Fiction
Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.
A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow's Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow's Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow's Child with her.
As they dig deep into the victim's past, The Shadow's Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau's own murky past--and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars...
It’s probably no secret that I adore Aliette’s writing and with my love for tea, it’s not a difficult guess to figure out why I picked up The Tea Master and the Detective. I don’t read much science-fiction but Aliette can sell me anything. Like a female Sherlock Holmes with Watson’s role being played by a mindship. Does it work? Yes, it works perfectly.
Also, a mindship who’s profession it is to brew tea? They have to make money somehow, right? I like how The Shadow’s Child has an unlikely occupation but it totally makes sense in the universe.
It’s not your typical murder mystery with this setting, new technologies, and interesting characters. The two unlikely characters, Long Chau and The Shadow’s Child, work even better together than they both initially expected. Even with the different goals, they both shared an interest in how the crew members ended up dead. The dynamic between the two is full of banter and I appreciate how she shows us the world through their conversations as well as some exposition. It’s not a long book but you know the how the world works before it ends. Doing all of that and telling a story takes skill.
I give The Tea Master and the Detective five stars. The creativity of the story and the setting are complemented by Aliette’s writing skills. I absolutely adore reading her work no matter how long or short it is. Subpress has announced a new book in the same universe by Aliette de Bodard and I’m super excited to read it. If it’s anything like The Tea Master and the Detective I know I’m going to love it.
If you like fantasy, you should check out my review of Aliette de Bodard’s In The Vanishers’ Palace.