The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard (Dominion of the Fallen, #1)
Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s).
THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a slow burn murder mystery steeped in a slightly fantastical but still brutal vision of colonialist France, recasting human interests as Fallen ones with the specter of lost heaven at their backs. For a story so detailed and complex, there's actually a low number of major players carrying out the machinations. This allows for political maneuvering that's fairly easy to follow (for a multiple-POV multiple-murder mystery, at least). The end result is an absorbing world and a very satisfying resolution, setting the stage for greater things still to come in the rest of the series. It's full of legacy, caught between trying to forget painful histories and claiming present power on the basis of past struggles. I like the characters even when I hope they'll lose in the layers of deception, the weight of history, and the game of Houses.
The world-building is really good, it explicitly rejects assumptions that the colonizer's magic (to the extent that the Fallen are French if they're from any nation at all) is the only kind. Most of the characters disagree with each other about something, and the combination of those disagreements builds a fuller picture of the world even as it informs who they are as individuals. The perspective shifted between the MCs frequently enough to keep the story moving but not so often as to be confusing.
I loved reading this, it tied off this book's plot rather neatly while transforming the stage for further power struggles. It's definitely not a cliffhanger, and yet I need to know what everyone does next. I will definitely check out the sequels.
CW for colonialism, drug use, drug abuse, suicidal thoughts, blood, gore, mutilation, violence, torture, major character death, death.
BTB 2021 Reading Challenge (QAOC)