It should be emphasised right up front that while the worldbuilding is every bit as detailed and baroque as her previous solo novels under her other name, the mood leans far less toward the noir than The Doctrine of Labyrinths. The tone is overall much more hopeful, and the main character here far more likable, than in any of her previous novels ... a deeply engrossing read—every time I open a page, I find I simply get drawn into the story, but this is only partly because of Addison’s excellent ability to turn a phrase. The sheer compelling attractiveness of Maia’s character figures larger ... Addison’s worldbuilding is delightfully detailed and thorough ... marvellously welcoming ... A book you pick up and read when you’re tired and sad, and all unexpected it’s like being wrapped up in a comforting warm fuzzy blanket of glorious worldbuilding and shiny prose and decent people doing the best they know how ... the best fantasy I’ve read in quite some time. It’s certainly my favourite of the last great while, and though it’s early days yet, I suspect it may be the best single novel I read this year ... I vigorously recommend it, and I really hope that there’s a sequel in the works. Because I desperately want to read more.
Court intrigue and politics are popular fodder for fantasy novels, but rarely have they been done better than in this fantastic new novel from Sarah Monette (writing as Addison). The writing is lovely, with characters who live and breathe. Maia, especially, will tug on the heartstrings of even the most hardened reader as he struggles to find kindness and allies in the imperial court.
The author combines steampunk and fantasy (this is a world of elves and goblins and the like) to tell an utterly captivating story. Addison has built a completely believable world, with its own language, customs, and history, but there are tantalizingly familiar elements (such as newspapers and pocket watches) that make us wonder from whence this world came and whether it might have sprung from our own, in a distant future. There are lots of unanswered questions here that will likely be addressed in a sequel.
Addison patiently and tellingly paints in the backdrop, mingling steampunk elements and low-key magic with imperial intricacies. There are powerful character studies and a plot full of small but deadly traps among which the sweet-natured, perplexed Maia must navigate. The result is a spellbinding and genuinely affecting drama ... Unreservedly recommended.
Ambitious and meticulously executed worldbuilding brings an animated dazzle to this exceptional assemblage of character studies and complex encounters, while the expressive evocation of its youthful protagonist’s shyness and insecurity adds an affecting authenticity to the steampunk-infused fantasy setting. Crafted with a preternatural deftness, the elf kingdom of Ethuveraz is a multilayered masterwork ... Less a novel than a series of anecdotes, this stalwart endeavor, which is fantasist Sarah Monette’s first work under the Addison name, is carried by the strength of atmosphere and Maia’s resonant good-heartedness. Readers will hope for many more tales of Ethuveraz.