Countdown to 2023 – Day 26 ‘Boxing Day’ (5 days remaining)


Today is day 26 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Boxing Day’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

BOXING DAY (Feeling bloated, a palate cleanser)

The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison was a great palate cleanser for me with a world and characters that I would happily return to.


Tomorrow: Christmas Crackers – Ended with a bang


The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison (The Cemeteries of Amalo #2)

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I loved returning to Amalo


Addison, once again, returns us to the City of Amalo where we follow in Thara Celehar’s footsteps as he provides his unusual services to those who have died and the bereaved who request his services.  Celehar is Witness for the Dead.  A strange occupation indeed and one that involves a complexity of cases.

I’m loving these stories with Celehar.

Firstly, Addison has imagined a very easy to like central character in Celehar and a character that I could happily follow along in to whatever predicament he finds himself in. He’s such an easy character to get on with.  Straightforward, honest (brutally so sometimes), respectful, determined to undertake his duty even in the face of danger, kind and thorough.  I could go on at some length about this character because I’m loving reading about his adventures.

Secondly, Addison once again pays attention to the everyday little details in Celehar’s regular routines that just help to form a clear picture of the place itself.  And clearly this is a place that the author feels comfortable in.  There are all sorts of naming conventions, formalities, protocols, etc, but rather than explaining these in any sort of depth you instead get a feel for them by reading the story and everything just slotting into place with relative ease.

Thirdly, I love the kind of gentle feel to these stories – which to be fair belies some of the brutal or shocking cases that Celehar actually undertakes.  The central case here, for example, is actually quite unpleasant, but at the same time the way Celehar deals with the situation is so respectful and helpful, and indeed intelligent that he brings a quiet sensitivity to the story.  It reminds me almost of reading, say, an Agatha Christie novel, Celehar shares the tenacity and powers of deduction of Miss Marple or Poirot for example.  And, although there tends to be a central investigation there are a series of almost comic threads that help to lighten the overall feel – like the search for a famous scone recipe. I could seriously see myself reading more from Celehar and I hope his journey continues although I will say that there is a very surprising development in this story that knocked both Celehar and me for six – so I need the next instalment in the Cemeteries of Amalo series yesterday.  No pressure at all.

Fourthly, I love it when the title of a book comes to make sense during the read and that is definitely the case here.

Once again the world building is done really well.  We have Celehar visiting haunted temples, tea shops, the opera (where a sweet and slow build romance seems to be developing), schools for foundlings and even a maze.

And, the extra bonus is a new character who becomes an apprentice to Celehar.  I love this development, apprenticeships and mentoring relationships are one of my favourite things to read about and so I hope for more.

I don’t think I can add anything further.  This is well written, very easy to engage with, has a delightful main  character, a central mystery with lots of other shenanigans, set in a fantasy world with Goblins and Elves, ghosts and ghouls and is just a delight to read.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars.

The Witness for the Dead (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison

My Five Word TL:DR Review : An excellent, character focused story

WitnessThe Witness for the Dead is the second book in Katherine Addison’s Goblin Emperor series – although it isn’t a continuation of that story but a focus on one of the character from book 1.  Strangely enough a character that I was keen to learn more about so i was very happy to discover that Addison had returned to this wonderful world.

I’ve actually borrowed from the book description to give you an idea of what the book is about because I think this gives a very good idea of what you can expect:

‘When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin.

Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honestly will not permit him to live quietly. As a Witness for the Dead, he can, sometimes, speak to the recently dead: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty to use that ability to resolve disputes, to ascertain the intent of the dead, to find the killers of the murdered.’

So, as you can see this book is far removed from Court and the Emperor.  However, even with that removal to the City Celehar hasn’t completely escaped politics and maneouvering.

The actual plot here revolves around a number of ‘cases’ that Celehar becomes involved with that range from murder mystery, will forgery and banishing ghouls and in fact some of the cases give us the really ugly truth of what Celehar’s strange abilities sometimes entail – seeing the last few moments of murdered victims can be particularly harrowing, as can speaking to those who died in horrible accidents and unsurprisingly Celehar’s work causes him many sleepless nights and strange and unsettling dreams.

The storylines we follow are interesting, particularly in giving a good feel for the City.  I loved to see the world of the Opera and all the tea shops with their varied food and drinks.  I liked the way that the author particularly focuses on day to day routines, clothes, etc and provides a clear picture of Celehar’s everyday life.  All of these things help to build a strong picture of Amalo, it’s poor quarters, the factories, living and working conditions, in fact Celehar himself does not receive a generous salary for the work he undertakes and it was interesting to see him struggling to justify purchases and making purchases second-hand.  There’s a sort of down to earth quality about these everyday things that is both mundane but at the same time strangely comforting to read and really helpful in building up a strong picture of the main character.

Which brings me to Celehar.  I mentioned above that this is a great character study and this is what really made this book stand out for me, much more than the plot in fact.  Celehar is such an unusual character.  How to explain.  I think the first thing that comes across is his formality.  He follows what he perceives to be the correct forms of etiquette in terms of speech almost with overbearing politeness at some points.  This comes down basically to the fact that he finds it difficult to interact with people and so I suppose adhering to a certain form of polite ‘rules’ provides him with comfort.  To be honest, I really liked him.  He’s thorough, he’s honest, a bit lonely, sad almost, but I loved his frankness and he felt so refreshingly different, I wanted to hug him but think he would be horrified by the notion.  He takes on board his tasks, no matter how distressing, in an uncomplaining fashion and is stubbornly determined to see them through even though they may make him unhappy.  It’s possible that Celehar is autistic – although I’m certainly not an expert so that could be completely wrong – but his difficulty in communicating with others, his almost obsessive attention to detail such as directions to and from places, his very structured and methodical way of dealing with situations, his straightforward way of describing things without softening the blow, all point in that direction.  The other thing I really liked about Celehar is that in spite of his own fears about certain things people like him, of course, some people are intimidated by the nature of his work, but what shines through here is that eventually his natural determination to help others wins him friends.

Overall, this was a quick and easy read with a character that I was keen to learn more about and a world that I was very happy to explore further.  A very different book than the Goblin Emperor but another example of how Addison excels at character development.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars



Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Witness for the dead, (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Witness for the dead, (The Goblin Emperor #2) by Katherine Addison.

TheWitnessA standalone novel in the fantastic world of Katherine Addison’s award-winning The Goblin Emperor.

When young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had killed his father and half-brothers in The Goblin Emperor, he turned to an obscure resident of his court, a Witness for The Dead named Thara Celehar.

Now, far from the court, Thara Celehar lives in quasi-exile, neither courtier nor prelate, serving the common people of the city. He lives modestly, communicating with the dead as is his duty.

But his decency and fundamental honesty will not permit him to live quietly. Celehar will follow the truth wherever it leads him no matter who may be implicated in murder, fraud, or ancient injustices.

Expected publication : June 2021

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

AngelofMy TL:DR Five Word Review : Sherlock Holmes Winged Fantasy fanfic

Okay, so, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  The original description is very mysterious indeed and certainly intrigued me enough to request a copy even if the author’s name hadn’t already stoked my attention to unusual heights.  Here’s a copy of the original description:

‘This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.’

Overall, I enjoyed this and it was entertaining.  I do have slightly mixed feelings however – but then, at the same time that feeling is dependent on whether or not this is intended to be a series.  If more books are planned then I would put my mixed feelings down to that certain feeling you experience having read the first in a series of books where you’re left wanting  more and with  gaps in your knowledge that you expect to be filled in as future instalments are forthcoming. If this is a standalone then I’m left with that feeling of not being quite sated but still having enjoyed a revisit with some old storylines and characters.  What I am puzzled about is why the whole ‘Sherlock and Watson revamped’ scenario is left off from the blurb.  I’m always interested in any reimaginings that include this pair and also usually onboard for anything including Jack the Ripper so putting the two together is a double whammy for me.

What did I really enjoy about Angel of Crows:

This is an alternate London where fantastic creatures live alongside the everyday mundane.  Vampires, Werewolves and Angels to name but a few. Holmes and Watson are themselves quite far removed from the original characters in more ways than a simple change of name – here called Crow and Doyle.  Crow, for example, is an angel and in truly infuriating style I’m not going to tell you anything about Doyle, other than he’s a military doctor now retired from service following injury.  Both of them have secrets.  That is all I’m prepared to say.  I think writing Holmes as an Angel was a brilliant idea.  His character always had a sort of ‘ethereal’ or aloof feel to it in the original stories and he came across as a little detached which is perfectly portrayed here.  I loved the friendship that develops between the two and their interactions and the way they support each other. On top of that I loved the idea that Angels are linked to a particular residence which makes me want to go and look up places like the Angel Inn.

Angel of Crows includes a retelling of a number of the original stories and uses the Ripper cases as a backdrop with Crow becoming heavily involved with the hunt for the killer. This allows a common thread to run throughout the story which is also aided by each individual storyline introducing new threads.

In terms of criticisms.  I think this might have benefitted by focusing more on one particular story rather than incorporating so many of the originals, it gave the stories a slightly rushed feel.  There was also a rather skimpy feel to the usual powers of deduction and reasoning behind Crows assumptions, in fact he had a rather downplayed  role in that respect.  I would also like to know more about the supernatural aspects of this world – although if this is a series rather than a standalone  – that might be further developed in future instalments.

Overall I had a good time with this.  I enjoyed the writing and revisiting these characters albeit in a different guise.  I think the author’s love for this is also very clear and I would happily read more stories if that is the plan.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 out of 5 stars


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