Comfort reading this weekend

I’ve read this one a couple of times. It’s rather low-stress because (a) the big revelation that the protagonist is a young woman rather than a boy has startling few serious repercussions; and (b) there is no serious delay in working out the romantic relationship after that revelation; and (c) there is no doubt about the happily-ever-after ending.

One death of a character the reader has been led to like. Other than that, as I say, a low-stress, comfortable story. I like it enough that it was difficult to put down even though I’ve read it at least twice before.

So, after Hunting, I went on to read this one for the first time:

And good heavens, I had no idea what a strange, baroque alternate history we would get in this story. Wow. Very different from any other world Andrea K Höst has built. Ornate, cluttered . . . I hardly know how to describe it.

I guess I will say that the BASIC idea is that all the pantheons are real and that the question of whether you have your afterlife in order is as important as whether you have your actual life in order. But . . . wow. Lots of stuff layered on top of that basic idea.

If I’d read the back cover copy, I might have known that going in. Here is is:

In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt’s vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia’s fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air.

But the peace of recent decades is under threat. Rome’s automaton-driven wealth is waning along with the New Republic’s supply of power crystals, while Sweden uses fear of Rome to add to her Protectorates. And Prytennia is under attack from the wind itself. Relentless daily blasts destroy crops, buildings, and lives, and neither the weather vampires nor Prytennia’s Trifold Goddess have been able to find a way to stop them.

With events so grand scouring the horizon, the deaths of Eiliff and Aedric Tenning raise little interest. The official verdict is accident: two careless automaton makers, killed by their own construct. The Tenning children and Aedric’s sister, Arianne, know this cannot be true. Nothing will stop their search for what really happened.

Not even if, to follow the first clue, Aunt Arianne must sell herself to a vampire.

It’s a great story so far. I’m about 2/3 of the way through. Arianne and one of the children are the protagonists, by the way; and right up front Arianne’s plans are upset when she accidentally gets bound to the wrong vampire. I cannot even begin to describe what happens next.

Anyway, it’s quite something, and shortly I will be waiting impatiently for the sequels to TWO of Andrea K Höst’s series.

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