Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances – Aliette de Bodard

“Up until Asmodeus spoke up, it had been an uneventful day – or, at any rate, not more eventful than usual.

I’m annoyed at myself at still not having got round to reading the Dominion of the Fallen series, but instead started with this series of novellas. I’m told that you can read them as stand alone, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first, Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders but to be honest I did feel I lost a lot in this short novella from missing out on all the background.

We once again follow Dragon Prince, Thuan, and his Fallen Angel husband, Asmodeus. Theirs is clearly a deep bond and loving marriage, but we are told here that it had… violent… beginnings, and frankly it seems like Asmodeus was not supposed to hang around as a ‘foreigner’. The setting is Thuan’s homeland, beneath the Seine in a sort of magical ‘bubble’, and a world deeply inspired by highly traditional Vietnamese culture. Court and family intrigue is sort of one and the same, and ranks are very clearly defined.

This comes across in random comments and very definitely makes me want to have already read the original series! Sounds like a lot has gone on! It also made me feel a little disconnected here, feeling that I’d missed so much background. Thuan and Asmodeus’ relationship is not completely smooth sailing, and I did at times feel it was a little too in peril to make this a wholly comfortable read. Presumably with more backstory it’d not feel quite so jarring.

But still, this is mostly a comforting kind of a read, full of love even if it’s not always easy. The mostly-happy couple start the novella babysitting, and it’s really nice to see non-bratty kids that are so clearly cared for and caring, and while they aren’t the focus here they do add a lot. And then there’s the ghost child…!

I won’t give too many spoilers, but the mix of (non-Western) mythologies and magics is fantastic, especially loved the deadly paper charms. Oh, and one character’s constant supply of tea – perhaps kept up her sleeves?! Brilliant 🙂

I’d love to recommend this to everyone, but the one caveat is that I do think it’d read better after the main series. A flaw in myself I hope to rectify soon! 😉

Of Charms Ghosts and Grievances book coverNetGalley eARC: 110 pages / not split into chapters
First published: 28th June 2022
Series: Dragons and Blades book 2
Read from 8th-9th June 2022

My rating: 8/10

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