The Witness for the Dead • 2021 • Gaslight Fantasy novel by Katherine Addison

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Synopsis: Witness for the Dead is set in the same world as the award winning The Goblin Emperor (review) but focuses on a mostly different cast of characters and far outside of the imperial court. 

Thara Celehar, a prelate of Ulis, helped emperor Maia with her investigation of her father’s murder. Since then, he moved form the imperial court to Amalo where airships are produced. He’s caught between two stools, as he doesn’t fit into the religious hierarchy as a Witness for the Dead. 

Celehar’s special ability is to communicate with the recently deceased within certain restrictions. He acts as their representative especially regarding selecting the correct funeral ceremony or clarifying details of the last will.

This haunting by spirits takes a lot from him psychologically, but he wants to be useful and bares his duty with stiff upper lip. 

The novel’s plot develops, as the body of a young woman is secured from the river. Celehar acts in his central role as an investigator: Who was the woman and who was her murderer? 

Review: This novel has been a disappointment for me. It retained many of the good qualities of Witness for the Dead but also turned to a very different course. 

First of all, I’d have loved to read more about Maia’s struggles and court intrigues. My expectations weren’t fulfilled at all. Switching to a repetitive murder mystery didn’t keep my interest at all. That is simply not my favorite genre. Even though readers might like exactly that, the mystery itself as the novel’s core wasn’t a good one.

This isn’t a bad book at all, as the two star assessment might imply. It rather expresses my enjoyment with it, and that was only an ok read. Even the first novel had its downsides and I couldn’t fully enjoy it, but this one took it one step further. 

On the positive side side, one can get easily immersed in the city of Amalo, and Celehar as a character is rather compelling. 

If you liked the first book better than I did, and if you prefer murder mysteries, then this book might work very well for you. 

Meta: isbn 9781781089514. Published at 22.7.2021 by Rebellion

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13 Responses to The Witness for the Dead • 2021 • Gaslight Fantasy novel by Katherine Addison

  1. Ola G says:

    Huh, you really didn’t enjoy this one, did you, Andreas? I actually liked it, because it was more gritty and less cloyingly sweet than The Goblin Emperor 😉 but I agree with you on the murder mystery leaving something to be desired. The ending was a bit of a letdown, too, because of its abruptness, but all in all I enjoyed it more than the suffocating savoir vivre of the court 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andreas says:

      No, it was just ok – I’m glad to have read it but I won’t continue the series.
      I guess, I love to drown in Rococo court affairs! You’re the expert regarding mysteries and your assessment should be added to this review. I don’t like mysteries, like, at all.
      This book is clearly a matter of preferences.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aii. I am witness to the death of this book. You murdered it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeanne says:

    It sounds like this one turns on necromancy. Does it pay? (Sounds like it does, if it’s one character’s job!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! Coming from The Goblin Emperor though, if you don’t really care for mysteries I can see why this would be a disappointment. I know one of the main reasons I loved it was because I adore fantasy mysteries, so I was in my element!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is nice to get yer take on this even if ye didn’t love it like I did. The murder mystery wasn’t the focus for me. I fell in love with the characterization. I certainly want more books in this world.
    x The Captain
    PS kitten photos. it has been a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha, chalk this one up as another where we have opposite opinions. While I too hope for more Rococo court intrigue at some point, I really enjoyed seeing the world beyond court and enjoyed Celehar as a character. I even enjoyed the mysteries (well, to a point – I was disappointed that the two main cases ended up being connected; it felt too neat and convenient to me and is one of my chief bugbears with multi-strand mystery novels generally).

    Liked by 1 person

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