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Lullaby for a Lost World

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Charlotte died to shore up her master's house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance.

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ebook, 14 pages
Published June 8th 2016 by Tor Books
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  351 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Jul 22, 2016 rated it liked it
They bury you at the bottom of the gardens—what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh—at your broken bones—and sings you to sleep in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies, whispering of rest and forgiveness, of a place where it is forever light, forever safe.

this is another one of those tor shorts that offers up some interesting imagery and the shape of a situation without
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This is a very quick, horror-esque read.

It details the story of a young woman dying, and her thoughts from the afterlife.

I don't want to give any other details as it may spoil the entire story.

The storytelling was magnificent, i loved the author's writing style.
Althea Ann
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Aliette de Bodard's website describes this story as "A dark and creepy answer to 'The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas.'" Since I re-read LeGuin's story ( earlier today, as well as another story by de Bodard ( (which I loved), it seemed like an auspicious time to go ahead and read this one.

Unfortunately, 'Lullaby...' did not fare well by comparison. I think I would've liked it better without any mention of the
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, read-2016
4 Stars

Lullaby for a Lost World is a unique, interesting, and we'll written piece of short fiction by Aliette de Bodard. I am a huge fan of Aliette de Bodard and jump at opportunities to get her stuff, especially when you can read it for free on Lullaby for a Lost World is a short story about a draft girl.

The imagery is cool and the story fast. The writing is amazing...

"It doesn’t. It never will. Beneath the earth, you struggle to push at what holds you down—to gather shattered flesh
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

Gloomy, but beautifully written.
The short stories always act as a treat for me. If I can complete reading a pre-designated number of pages in my printed books for the week, then I get a treat. A Tor treat. Always at night, so that any sound anywhere causes me to hold my breath. Tor was made for Winter.

This is one of the creepier Tor e-reads, and also one of the most puzzling. It grabbed me from the get-go, because the author does not give much away immediately. The reader learns, slowly, about the outside world which
Jess at

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"You could tell her, if you still had a voice—of the day they will come for her, two footmen and a butler and the master behind them."

Delightfully chilling and grotesque, the tale of a young girl who must pay the price for her master's life. I've never read anything by Bodard before but this was such an excellent introduction to her work. Every sentence was constructed to perfection. I loved it.
Rebecca Crunden
You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe—you never were.

This really reminded me of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. The overall tone is quite depressing, though the writing was good. It's really, really bleak though. :(
Jennifer (bunnyreads)
Dark, creepy and sad.

Quick read that feels like you stepped into a dark fairy-tale. I admit I expected there to be some revelation twist-end where we find out Charlotte is going through some sort of metamorphosis and turns out to be a butterfly or something equally tame but I was wrong (and this is why I don’t write or plot anything).

So, I like the writing, like the tone of the story, and I do like these ‘window stories’…you know, not a lot of information but everything we need to know is there
Aug 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
seemed like an interesting enough short story. girl dies and in some strange and mysterious way becomes part of her master's house, her bones becoming part of the foundation and what not.

but my qualm is...absolutely NOTHING was explained. who was Charlotte? who was her master and why was he her master? who were the girls who came before her? who besides the master was involved in their deaths? (the story mentions the "dozens, hundreds of people who sent girls to die in agony for the good of the
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, but rounded up because I enjoyed reading it and it's short.

I could see this creepy tale growing out of the origins of one of the Parisian Houses in The House of Shattered Wings, also by Aliette de Bodard. In fact, I'm internally speculating (hoping?) this might end up being referenced in The House of Binding Thorns, which I still need to wait nearly a year to read.

You can read it here.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
" “Better the weak and the sick than all of us. I know it doesn’t excuse anything.”

It doesn’t. It never will. "

Great story, I read The House of Shattered by De Bodard earlier this year and I didn't like it at all however, this short story was everything I expected from her debut and more, great writing, creepy and beautifully sad.
Bobbi Jo
This is basically a rewrite of The Lottery or The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas but with a stronger response from the sacrifice. Is it ever right to survive off of the suffering of others? Charlotte doesn't think so.
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is a really good story. It's more than a little creepy, but it's a powerful story even so. It's so short, that I'm not sure what I can say that won't be a spoiler. But at the end, I was not at all sure who was the monster.
Erin (PT)
Dec 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This short would always be relevant, but amidst all the women rising up and speaking against their harassers and rapists, it feels especially sharp, particularly satisfying.

Men have always built their houses on the foundation of women’s bones and the price is often too high. This is merely a more literal iteration of that vampiric predation.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shorts
This wasn't bad at all, it was just kind of weird. The writing itself was beautiful and each sentence read like a dark poem. It had promise and I was intrigued by the premise, but at only 9 pages long it just had no time to fully develop.

Charlotte died to shore up her master's house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever
Maggie Gordon
Lullaby for a Lost World is an eerie and lyrical tale about a horrifying ritual and the child it abuses that has so much potential that just isn't met in such a short work. The piece relies on emotions built up over time, but given that this slow simmer was not something readers got to experience, the power of the climax is dulled. However, it's still chilling piece with beautiful visuals.
Rachel Marks
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This story is stunning and eerie in its beauty. Highly recommend. I read it in a single sitting and wanted to go back and read it again. Aliette is a stand-out talent.
Tokio Myers
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very creepy and wonderfully written story.
Miriam Cihodariu
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: france
This was an interesting experimental piece of very short fiction, and it ended up being surprisingly good. It's true that you can't really develop a lot from the story in only a few pages, but that's exactly part of the charm. It gets you so curious about everything mentioned and not explained at large that you really wish it was longer so some of the mystery can be solved :).

I would love it if the author would make this part of a more detailed universe in a series of hers, but of course, it's
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novella, read-2018
You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe—you never were.

What a gorgeous, almost poetic, dark story.

Time passes—months flipped forward like the pages of the books you used to love so much.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very lyricly told dark tale from de Bodard. Grim and intense, the framework is about becoming the blood sacrifice for the better of the cabal, while also examining the relentless mortal desire to fight to remain existent. The vivid imagery very much kept me blazing on through this story.
Paul  Perry
Another mythic tale, from the point of view of a young girl killed as a sacrifice to the power beneath the House, a power which keeps it safe from the depredations that ravage the outside world. Her consciousness lives beneath until, inevitably, another sacrifice in required.

Again, wonderful writing, which is certainly the theme of this collection so far. A story of what we are willing to live with for safety and privilege - bringing to mind The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - but with a
Jul 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This Tor short left me cold. There is nothing wrong about it, but it feels like I have read too many stories like this already. This is probably a personal peeve, but more and more I am getting fed up with stories about unfair conditions to women, sacrifices being asked from them, women being victims etc. even if the aim of the story is good and gender equality is far from being the norm, I much prefer stories with well-rounded female characters being themselves and doing stuff (not all of them ...more
Bridget Mckinney
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I didn't love Aliette de Bodard's The House of Shattered Wings as much as I love her Xuya stories or Obsidian and Blood, but I did enjoy this shorter story that feels as if it could be part of that alternate Paris universe. I only wish I'd waited another month to read it--it's a perfectly creepy, atmospheric story for reading with a cup of cider and a blanket while leaves are falling.

Read more reviews at SF Bluestocking.
Alex Sarll
Human sacrifices in the foundations to strengthen's a very long time indeed since that was routine. But what a great narratorial point of view, and what an uncomfortably apt image for all the others sacrificed in slightly less obvious ways since, in order that those who have may rest comfortable and secure from the world as experienced by those who have not.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's weird, dark and sad, so right up my alley and is one of those books that ends with me being all "what did I just read?" and I think I like it for that, but tbh, I'm not sure. Definitely liked the writing though.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it

1. “Was . . . was there pain?” your mother asks. She clutches your favorite doll—so well-worn it’s going to pieces in her hands. She doesn’t want to let go because, when she’s knelt in the blood-spattered mud of the gardens, she will have to get up, she will have to go back, to move on, as though everything she does from now on does not stand in the shadow of your death.

2. Beyond the gardens, the house waits—walls of golden stone, paneled doors with intricate carvings that seem to come alive
Katie J Schwartz
And then the slow descent into the cellar—that tightness rising in her chest, as if the air she’s breathing was being taken away from her—and the circle, and the altar, and—and a last draught of poppy, an illusory comfort that will not hold when the darkness at the heart of the house rises and she strains against the shackles, trying to stifle the scream that’s tearing its way out of her . . .

Spooky imagery that contributes to an overall awesome tone and mood, but I'd hesitate to call this a
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Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards. She was a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella). Most recently she published The House of Sundering Flames (Gollancz/JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.), the conclusion to her Dominion of the Fallen trilogy, ...more