House of Open Wounds by Adrian Tchaikovsky

House of Open Wounds by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Palleseen army are dominating the world with their perfectionist doctrine. The injured and dying are brought from the front line to field hospitals where a motley crew attempt to patch them up by any means possible.

Entrusted with saving the damned, the unit work with unauthorised magic, necromancy demonology and banned Gods to save and repurpose souls. If discovered, their unethical actions could lead to harrowing consequences.

The Palleseen army are ravaging the world with war, desperate to correct a perceived imperfect world.

Behind the front lines, field hospital tents attempt to save the damaged and damned by any means possible.

Yasnic, a former priest turned rebel, finds himself stationed within the hospital. Miraculously saved from the gallows, he clings to faith literally, carting around a box of orphaned Gods wherever he goes.

This unorthodox hospital is commanded by the Butcher, a man who has no fear of the horrors of war. The crew deal with unspeakable gore caused by horrific monsters, magical weapons and relentless enemy attacks.

Tasked with saving and reutilising the fallen, they must be mindful to keep their unethical practices under the radar. Practices that include the use of banned magic, necromancy, demonology and ‘false’ Gods. If not, they could face dire consequences.

A gory field hospital comes alive with dark magic

House of Open Wounds by Adrian Tchaikovsky offers spectacular and vivid worldbuilding with beautifully detailed prose that transports you into a gruesome war. It fantastically explores difficult topics including colonialism, politics, fascism, religion, war and poverty.

The story is told from many character’s perspectives with each chapter focused on a different person. At times, this makes it harder to connect and truly get to know them with any true depth.

With all these points of view, the pacing felt slow at times. I often found myself confused as to who was the focus within the narrative and how it was progressing.

Although interesting to have many viewpoints, I do wonder if the cast had been smaller, the novel may have been easier to follow and enjoy.

House of the Open Wounds by Adrian Tchaikovsky was released on December 7 2023 via Head of Zeus.

I personally have read House of Open Wounds. However, I did receive a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley and this post does contain affiliate links.

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The Bone Roots by Gabriela Houston

Vedma Kada and Sladyana both live in fear of the fox. Kada keeps her daughter, Secha, hidden, hoping to keep her safe. Thankful to goddess Zemya for gifting her and vehemently praying and offering to her bone roots. On the other hand, Sladyana has spent the last 15 years searching for her daughter, Luba. Snatched by the fox. Each desperate to protect their child, only one can succeed and only one knows why.

The Bone Roots by Gabriela Houston illustrates the tale of two mothers, both desperate to protect their child.

Vedma Kada lives in constant fear. Her brother was stolen by the fox 40 years ago, and she keeps herself hidden, terrified that her daughter, Secha, may be next.

Kada must keep her daughter close, especially when she starts to exhibit powerful and strange behaviours.

Secha is a product of goddess Zemya’s child-bearing tree, a bestowed gift to Kada. Each year, she gives thanks to Zemya, with an offering via her bone roots. Additionally, in her role as a Vedma, Kada ultimately serves the goddess, as well as the local community.

Sladyana, a rich noblewoman, is mother to Luba. Snatched by the fox, Sladyana has desperately spent 15 years searching for her daughter.

When Kada and Sladyana are reunited, both seek answers that may save their children.

The strength of a mother’s love

Inspired by Slavic folklore, this fantasy novel explores the lengths a mother will go to protect her child.

The focus on motherhood is particularly poignant in this story and it’s predominantly told in a dual narrative. Both Kada and Sladyana are strong and complex characters, with troubles aplenty.

Not only must they fight for their beliefs, they must also balance societal expectations for their own protection.

You will find yourself cheering them on or being disappointed in their actions. Some are understandable, others questioning morality. Ultimately, they are human and flawed – and their predicaments are not easy.

Houston is masterful at her atmospheric descriptions, her beautiful prose brimming with emotion, mythology and lore.

A particular example is witnessing Kada in her role as a Vedma (Moss Witch). Her interactions with the weird and wonderful mythical creatures are fascinating. Whether seeking their favour and/or destruction, each conversation is vividly brought to life.

Ultimately, this novel draws you into the fantasy world of Fiesna alongside the harrowing struggles of its female protagonists. It’s a wonderful tale of motherhood, love, desperation, magic and secrets.

The Bone Roots by Gabriela Houston was released on October 10, 2023, via Angry Robot.

I personally have read The Bone Roots. However, I did receive a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley and this post does contain affiliate links.

Read more book reviews on The LDN Gal