Of Charms, Ghosts, and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard

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.

*****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

My favorite murder/scholar power couple return for another novella, and this time it’s with children and ghosts (and sometimes both). I think I’ve made it very clear through my reviews of the other books in this world (Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders, The House of Shattered Wings) how much I adore this power couple (especially Asmodeus) and that love has only been increased with this novella. Disagreements on the proper strength of tea (sorry Asmo, but I’m siding with Thuan on this one), Thuan and Asmodeus slowly learning to communicate their issues, and more exposure to the Viet-inspired dragon kingdom under the Seine, there’s so much to love with this new installment.

Compared to their other novella, what I enjoyed most was the upped stakes. Whereas Dragons, Feasts, and Murders felt like conflict existed purely at Asmodeus’s whim, Charms, Ghosts, and Grievances neutralizes Asmo’s overwhelming presence of murder and gives Thuan’s diplomatic approach more time to shine. At the same time, there’s more combat and more talking it out like a functional couple who didn’t start their relationship by trying to murder each other.

I’ve generally made it clear through my reviews that I’m not the biggest fan of child characters, for entirely personal reasons. That being said, reading about Asmodeus taking care of children? Absolutely priceless. And damn did de Bodard deliver on that front. The children play front and center in this story in a way that both endearing and (with respect to the fanged ghostly child), sometimes creepy.

Overall, I rate this book a 4.5/5. We get more Asmodeus and Thuan, and all the delight that comes with Thuan’s increasing alarm at watching Asmodeus interact with children. The stakes are upped and the relationship slowly learns to communicate.


r/Fantasy 2022-23 Bingo Squares:

  • Anti-Hero
  • Published in 2022
  • Non-Human Protag
  • Self Pub
  • BIPOC Author
  • Shapeshifters (hard mode)

Publication Date: 28 June 2022
Publisher: JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 110
Word Count: ~35,000
ISBN: B09SQF3QBG
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

3 thoughts on “Of Charms, Ghosts, and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard

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