British Fiction Focus

Aliette de Bodard Nukes Notre-Dame

After a period of anticipation so great that it may have given me brain pain, The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette de Bodard’s first full-length fiction in more than four years, is almost upon us. Would-be readers will already have admired the cover Roc has arranged for the book’s impending publication in the States, but I believe the art adorning Gollancz’s pretty-in-purple British edition, unveiled Monday, is at least its equal.

The House of Shattered Wings is said to be “a superb murder-mystery on an epic scale, set against the fall out of a war in heaven. For such an epic novel, [Gollancz] needed a suitably epic cover.”

But… I’m going to keep you all on the edge of your seats for a little longer. And I’m not even sorry! We’ve waited this long, after all—who cares about the time it’ll take to cruise through the final cover copy Gollancz offered?

Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation; or the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

Mmm. I may be miles off the mark here, but that blurb puts me in mind of Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s superb Assassini series.

But enough of my meanderings. You want cover art? I’ve got cover art!


On her blog, de Bodard dubbed designer Graeme Longhorne’s atmospheric effort her “precious,” before reflecting on the assemblage as follows:

It’s a very different beast to the US cover—classier and more refined, but I really like the details: the window and its reflection in the water, broken up by debris; the jewel-like wings, which are very appropriate for my Fallen, whose magic is beautiful, addictive and highly prized; and the arches. This is totally the inside of Notre-Dame before I nuked it.

The House of Shattered Wings will be released by Gollancz in the UK on August 20th—so soon! Just not soon enough…

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He’s been known to tweet, twoo.


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