The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch was engrossing and satisfying, and now I'm ready for the new book in the series. I hope this trend of More! Guleed! continues. I am loving Tyburn as a character and hope to see more of her.
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard was more depressing than I was in the mood for, but did have the virtue of making me homesick for Vietnam, a place I've never been. (It was very odd reading about dark corridors being strangled by magic while lounging next to a pool in the sun, watching The Tots frolic.)
There's a lot going on about privilege and colonialism and autonomy and change.
See, there were positive sides to a House. But of course there were. Of course there would be good people like her, like Laure—within Silverspires, within Hawthorn—even within House Draken, where Theophraste the tailor had been kind, and sorry to see the Annamite troops drafted in the war, and made his best effort to cut them uniforms with flowing patterns like those on Annamite silk, and handed them scraps of cloth they could use as blankets against the killing cold. It hadn’t changed a thing. Such people’s lives were richer, easier because of the House system. And in turn, the House system existed only because such kind, gentle people kept pledging themselves to it and strengthening it from within. They were all complicit, without exception. And so was Isabelle. “What threatens the House?”
I think if you like Tansy Rayner Roberts' Creature Court books, you'll like this (and vice versa); they had a similar tone to me, great powers losing their power and trying to deal with that.
Coincidentally, the themes of the de Bodard had some echoes in the Fowler book I read next.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler has been on my TBR since before it came out. I think I'd call this literary fiction rather than specific. TW for primates in labs. It's about families, and how we think about families, and also about animals and how humans relate to them, how we treat each other, and what that says about us both. I was especially struck by the themes intersecting with my thoughts about the current American healthcare debate between those who think it's about money and those who think it's about people.
“We need a sort of reverse mirror test. Some way to identify those species smart enough to see themselves when they look at someone else. Bonus points for how far out the chain you can go. Double bonus for those who get all the way to insects.”
Once, she’d given me a raisin for every raisin she’d eaten, and now she had two poker chips and was giving me one. Two interesting behaviors--that was as far as Dad could go. Here is what I’d thought it meant. I’d thought Fern was apologizing. When you feel bad, I feel bad, is what I got from that red chip. We’re the same, you and I. My sister, Fern. In the whole wide world, my only red poker chip.
The NotSame was this: Like a chair or a car or a television, Fern could be bought and sold. The whole time she was living in the farmhouse with us as part of our family, the whole time she was keeping herself busy being our sister and daughter, she was, in fact, the property of Indiana University.