Katherine Addison’s The Angel of the Crows is not, as I had believed, a sequel to The Goblin Emperor. Instead, it’s a Sherlock Holmes pastiche—like, really super obviously one, with characters named “Doyle” and “Moriarty” and the like. It’s even structured as a series of mostly-unrelated cases, including a Baskerville family and a possible magic hound. If you like Sherlock Holmes (and I do), then you get the fun of having extremely similar stories plus the fun of seeing what changes Addison made to turn the series into fantasy. It worked well for me, but at the end of the book there was an author’s note where she explains that it’s apparently written in a subgenre of fanfic called “wingfic” where… randomly some of the characters have wings? Which is such a stupid idea that if I’d heard it before I read the book, I would have been annoyed throughout, even though within the book it totally works to have Sherlock as an angel, with elaborate worldbuilding rules around what angels are and how they work in Victorian London. So probably I’ve now poisoned the book for you; sorry. Recommended if you can get past the fact that this is such a common trope as to need a name.

Katherine Addison’s The Witness for the Dead and The Grief of Stones actually are sequels to The Goblin Emperor. Sort of. They don’t feature the titular emperor, but instead follow one of the other characters from that book. Like the Sherlock book, there’s a kind of episodic nature here—the protagonist is a Witness for the Dead, and so solves murders and handles wills and just generally helps clear up questions that linger after a death. Some of the things he does are small and not really plot-relevant; others are the major cases the books are built on. But the overall effect of putting the big and small things together is that it just feels like… a job. You’re basically watching a guy go to work and do his job, even when it gets out of control and he’s fighting flesh-eating ghouls. The books have a kind of serene, low-key orderly energy to them, but somehow still manage to be compellingly readable. These are the first two books of a trilogy, and they’re extremely tightly-connected—the second book starts almost to the minute where the first one ends—so it might be worth waiting for the third one if you have my (lack of) memory for fiction. But whether now or later, these are definitely worth reading; recommended.


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