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The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller
The Mirror Empire
Kameron Hurley
The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire (Audio)
Jack Weatherford

Three Parts Dead

Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone The cover on this is gorgeous; I only wish the book had lived up to its promise.

There is a really good novella in here, I think. The worldbuilding fascinates me, particularly the way the author welds magic with contract law into some strange amalgam of the two. I like what we see of broader political concerns, and find the take on theology intriguing.

But despite the wildly inventive background, there's just not enough flesh for a novel. The characters are archtypes, and too much of what's actually interesting about the plot happens off-stage. What remains is hampered by overdescription. And the book doesn't so much foreshadow as fore-total-eclipse. When I work out a mystery ten pages before the main characters, I feel clever; when I work out a mystery three hundred pages before the main characters, I feel embarrassed on their behalf. In general, I felt like the characters were too often left holding the idiot ball to propel the plot forward.

But I did like the worldbuilding. And while I found the characters frustratingly flat, at least they're unusual archtypes; I particularly appreciate Tara's unrepentant interest in necromancy for the sake of intellectual curiosity. She's not driven by a dark past; she just thinks it's cool, and doesn't understand why everyone around her doesn't feel the same. I appreciate that in a woman. I also appreciate the lack of romantic subplots; I can see possible pairings for future novels, but the entire book takes place over the course of a couple days, and any romance developing in that time would have been too much, too soon.

Will I read those future novels? I'm not sure. I am deeply curious about some of the worldbuilding and metaphysics, but I would want someone I trusted to assure me that there was more organic plotting and character growth to accompany it.