Casey's Reviews > The House of Binding Thorns

The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard
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bookshelves: 2010s, fantasy, angels

The House of Binding Thorns is the sequel to The House of Shattered Wings. I will fully admit I forgot most of the plot of the first book, even characters that I noted I liked I couldn't quite remember their actions.

I think you could read this as a standalone, since I managed to make it through really only remembering Phillip's background. If you're interested in the world and characters, then you can go back and read book one.

I read the first book about two years prior. I didn't realize it was that long of a time span. I don't know if I'm getting old, or if I read so many books that only the ones with really unique characters and plot stick in my mind over time.

The House of Binding Thorns focuses on House Hawthorn. Madeleine, the angel essence user from the first book, is now back at Hawthorn. She's having trouble kicking her habit and she's fearful the head of the house, Asmodeus, is going to kill her.

She's unfortunately bound with magic to the house, so there's no real escaping. Asmodeus allows her to go on a visit to the dragon kingdom with some other members of the house - Clothilde, the house human magician being a key character.

Clothilde wants to know what happened to Ghislaine, a member of the house that went to visit the dragon queen, Ngoc Bich, as Ghislaine hasn't returned. Ngoc Bich and the rest of her court state Ghislaine left healthy and they have no idea what happened to her.

Other povs:

A young dragon named Thuan is at House Hawthorn, pretending to be human, and he is trying to gather intelligence. He thinks House Hawthorn is weakening the dragon kingdom somehow.

A houseless Fallen, Berith, and her partner Françoise live in poverty. Berith is slowly dying, and she wants Françoise and her soon to be born child to be safe. Berith has a connection to House Hawthorn that is revealed, and it gets the two of them somewhat caught up in the main events of the novel.

Phillipe from the first book interacts mainly with Berith and Françoise. He keeps seeing ghosts of Isabella and Morningstar.

There's some bad dragon people and some bad Fallen from another house. It's a mystery plot like the first one, with lots of brooding characters. There's not one character that actually knows everything that's going on, although Asmodeus is at the front of most of it.

It's hard to do a summary of this book because there are lots of plotlines that start out that are question marks. This is the kind of plot where not everything is fully explained out. (view spoiler)

The ending felt like a hard sprint. So many characters all having showdowns. It was epic and bloody, but it was hard to have what seemed liked 50 pages of intense endings for the characters.

There is less gore than the previous book. There's almost no angel harvesting, if you had an issue with that. The only mention is regarding a body in a morgue area that is being harvested, but other than that no kidnapping scenes. Plenty of people do get stabbed, however.

The characters are moody and always brooding. It does make it hard to care for one character over the other, since they all have the same attitude, but at least their motivations were rather clear and I never forgot what one character was about. There's still many Vietnamese characters, and characters with varied sexual orientation.

The ending was positive and possibly points to less ruthlessness in this world. (view spoiler)

I am interested in de Bodard's work. I like the writing style and world-building, and I think in a few more books she is really going to come out with something spectacular. My biggest gripe with this one is that it just felt like too many characters for too short of a time.

I thought the second book was rather similar to the first book, perhaps with a bit more of a complex plot, so it's likely that if you read the first one, you'll feel similar about the second one.
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Reading Progress

October 21, 2016 – Shelved
October 21, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
August 19, 2017 – Started Reading
August 20, 2017 – Shelved as: 2010s
August 20, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
August 22, 2017 – Finished Reading
August 23, 2017 – Shelved as: angels

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