Sara A. Mueller
Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.
Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.
Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.
Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.
now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.
If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.
Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
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(3 / 5) Charm is a necromantic worker, a witch and a madam. She takes care of the Orchard House and those that live within.
This story is very unique. So much so that I had a hard time understanding it. The women are interconnected and grown from a vat. Their own minds are connected through a mindlock. The mindlocks are used to communicate but for some to also control. Soldiers have mindlocks implanted for the control.
Being grown in a large container confused me. They were healed there too. The synopsis called them Charm’s children? I never got that impression. These women are referred to as boneghosts. I think my confusion didn’t come from lack of description, but more that my brain just couldn’t grasp it. They were in one body at times – like The Host? Or completely different? When Charm was punched, another boneghost, Pain, felt it. Charm and the women refer to “shared skulls” and more. Is it symbolism? Real? I just couldn’t grasp it. I’d reread passages multiple times. Ultimately, if I stopped trying to figure it out, I’d enjoy the story. But someone explain this to me!
Charm is hunting for the killer of the Emperor. Her methods and what she was willing to endure for the truth was admirable. She was shrewd and calculating. The people in the story accentuated Charm and her personality but also brought out such goodness. Charm really has some great character development at the end and I grew to really admire her. It became a story about determination, life and love.
General content summary: language, physical abuse (multiple times), prostitution, death by poisoning, a nan previously beat his wife to death, detailed gore from head wound, many are shot in a crowd, descriptions of dead bodies after a battle, mentions of child rape, suicide, murder (descriptions of blood), trans male/female relationship.
Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for the gifted copy!
The book releases March 22, 2022.
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