The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Not only is this imminently readable, it's also ghoulishly clever.
A little admission: I didn't read the blurb, so going entirely by passive recommendations and a bit of judging a book by its cover, I figured this would be a rather standard horror tale.
I'm so glad I was wrong. Indeed, this is a lusciously crafted fantasy with necromantic elements, deep worldbuilding with careful plotting, and quite reasonable developments that kept me asking new questions.
It's a mystery, first and foremost, but with all the other hard questions about sex work, abuse, mental rape, and body horror -- AS AN INSTITUTION -- I wouldn't say this is a light tale. Indeed, it is handled very well and with poise and even a little charm. Because, let's face it, sometimes the only weapon anyone might have in a bad situation is charm.
I often got upset, but never with our MC. I was right there and invested the entire time. I was most impressed with how much epic fantasy intrigue, SF worldbuilding, and careful characterizations. It reminded me fondly of Gideon the Ninth, but more of a standard mystery tale.
I'm looking forward to reading a lot more by Mueller.
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