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July 9, 2020

Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette de Bodard ~ a Review

by MK French

Dragon Prince Thuan brings home his husband Asmodeus to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Instead of family gatherings, they're greeted by a body on their doorstep. Asmodeus is delighted to investigate a murder, while Thuan is pulled into the political arena he wanted to give up. At the same time, they still have to navigate their way through their relationship.
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Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette de Bodard
July 2020; JABberwocky Literary Agency
ebook (79 pages); dark fantasy
Of Dragons, Feast and Murders
 is set in the world of de Bodard's Dominion of the Fallen books but is a standalone tale. In that world, it's a Gothic turn of the century and devastated Paris infused with elements of Vietnamese mythology. Aliette de Bodard has won several awards for her short stories (several of which are freely available on her website), which are set in fantasy or space opera locations. As a standalone story, we're given information on the court system and locations upfront. It's made very clear that Thuan and Asmodeus are separate from it, which allows them to investigate the murder, and we learn about the history between the pair as we go, as well as the rules of propriety and relationships.

I love the way rituals and relationships here are depicted because it's a blend of Vietnamese history and myth, as well as a play on roles, language, and court politics in a bid for power. For those with a fascination for Asian drama, the book is compared to Chinese wuxia novels and shows for good reason. The courtliness, edged words, doublespeak, and subtle jockeying for power that Thuan hates are at play, as well as swords, knives, and fighting.

This novel is more subtle, relying on layers of propriety and misdirection to get to the bottom of the murder and why there was the plot to destabilize the kingdom. It's short, so they get to the bottom of the plot fairly quickly, though I really wished for a much longer journey. I'll definitely have to check out the other books in this world.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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