The Inaccessibility of Heaven • Urban Fantasy novelette by Aliette de Bodard

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

First sentence: Night. A night like any other in Starhollow: the headlights of cars, small and lost between the skyscrapers; the smell of hydromel and wine wafting from those few bars still open; and above me, the distant light of the stars, a constant reminder of the inaccessibility of Heaven.

Synopsis: Something dark is butchering Fallen angels in an alternate Paris leaving only claws’ marks on their bodies behind. Human witch Samantha is contacted by the Fallen angel Arvedai to investigate this mystery. 

Sam is companion of another Fallen, Calariel, who cares about human suffering, but wants Sam to stay out of this. 

Soon, she realizes that a rebellion is behind it, and the driving force of being part of the Celestial City. Cal and Arvedai are hiding something. 

Review: Bodard’s Urban fantasy series Dominion of the Fallen has been around a couple of years and is ever expanding. I’ve followed it loosely since 2015, starting with The Death of Aiguillon, and last year’s novella Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, but I never made it to the novel trilogy (though it’s on my tbr). I’m more into her SF Xuya series, but in any case, she’s never let me down, I’m always looking forward to her stories. This novelette continues the streak. 

Samantha’s character is involving and well done, but the others stay pale in comparison. It is unclear what Sam sees in Cal, why they’d be in a relation. 

This noir story is particularly dark on the edge to horror, but still intriguing and even heartrending. I liked the suspenseful atmosphere a lot. 

If you’re in for a fantasy murder mystery, then you’ll probably like this one.

Meta: isfdb. Available online at Uncanny. Part of the Dominion of the Fallen series. Finalist for the Hugo and Locus Awards.

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