In the Vanishers’ Palace
From the award-winning author of the Dominion of the Fallen series comes a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast.In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land...A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village's debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn's amusement.But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets...Advance praise for In the Vanishers’ Palace“Another stellar offering by Bodard. Her signature intensity is on display in this tale of people (and dragons) struggling to survive in the ruins of an alien conquest. Emotionally complex relationships interweave with richly drawn and deftly nuanced world-building.” —Kate Elliott, author of the Court of Fives series“A transformative experience. With dragons.” —Fran Wilde, Hugo and Nebula nominated author of The Bone Universe and The Gemworld series

In the Vanishers’ Palace Details

TitleIn the Vanishers’ Palace
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 16th, 2018
PublisherJABberwocky Literary Agency
Rating
GenreFantasy, Dragons, Lgbt, Retellings, Glbt, Queer, Novella

In the Vanishers’ Palace Review

  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    In the Vanishers’ Palace is an adult fantasy f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast with an all-Vietnamese cast. In this book, the “beast” is a shapeshifting dragon, and since the only thing that is better than both f/f romances and monster romances is an f/f monster romance, I knew I had to read it.Monster romances have always been one of my favorite kinds of romance. I’m sure there are others out there, but In the Vanishers’ Palace is the first f/f one I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I found it – In the Vanishers’ Palace is an adult fantasy f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast with an all-Vietnamese cast. In this book, the “beast” is a shapeshifting dragon, and since the only thing that is better than both f/f romances and monster romances is an f/f monster romance, I knew I had to read it.Monster romances have always been one of my favorite kinds of romance. I’m sure there are others out there, but In the Vanishers’ Palace is the first f/f one I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I found it – I’ve been looking for a f/f couple with this dynamic for a while, after loving so many m/f ones. Vu Côn, the shapeshifting dragon who tries to remain emotionally distant and Is Totally Not Into Yên but uses fruit to flirt was exactly the kind of character I wanted to read about.The thing about Beauty and the Beast retellings is that the relationship usually starts on an unequal footing, and this can lead to unaddressed unhealthy aspects in the relationship (too many of them read more like Stockholm syndrome than romance). This never happened in this book – Yên’s agency and her choices are really important here, and this is a story about two characters in an unhealthy place working together to make it less so. It doesn’t work out immediately, it isn’t easy, and I really liked reading about their journey.I loved Yên and Vu Côn both as characters and as a couple.In the Vanishers’ Palace is a story about healing. Not only because the inciting incident itself happened because of an illness and some of the major characters are healers, but because this is a story set in a postcolonial world. The “Vanishers”, mysterious and powerful creatures, have left, but they left behind a broken world. Their experiments caused people to catch new, deadly illnesses, and now the survivors value only what’s “useful” – and this includes people. In the Vanishers’ Palace is a story about leaving behind that mindset.My favorite aspect of the worldbuilding was the Vanishers’ palace itself. From magical libraries to stairways that seem not to lead anywhere, from waterfalls that defy gravity to dangerous gardens and windows opening on the floor, it was a place of beauty and horror and one of the best settings I’ve read in a while. I have a weakness for magical buildings and this was everything I wanted and more. This dreamlike but deadly atmosphere reminded me of Roshani Chokshi’s books – I feel like this book could appeal to those who liked The Star-Touched Queen and want to read something shorter and less slow-paced.I also really liked the side characters. Yên was a teacher when she lived in her village and she also becomes a teacher for Vu Côn’s two children, Thông and Liên, who were adorable disasters.And, as usual, the writing was wonderful – it was atmospheric without being heavy, the dialogue felt natural, and I loved the descriptions.TL;DR: read it!
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  • K.J. Charles
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful SFF book (I love a blend of tech and magic so much) set in a post-colonial dystopia where the brutal ruling people have wrecked the place including the climate, left a horrifically damaged society behind them, and buggered off leaving their victims to make something of what little they have left. /looks at camera/ It's superbly depicted with magnificent economy, and utterly miserable, until our heroine is taken by a (lady) dragon as sacrifice and the story moves into a Beauty and the A wonderful SFF book (I love a blend of tech and magic so much) set in a post-colonial dystopia where the brutal ruling people have wrecked the place including the climate, left a horrifically damaged society behind them, and buggered off leaving their victims to make something of what little they have left. /looks at camera/ It's superbly depicted with magnificent economy, and utterly miserable, until our heroine is taken by a (lady) dragon as sacrifice and the story moves into a Beauty and the Beast tale. The romance is understated but intense, the mystery element well laid, but mostly this story gets its power from the visible damage done by the colonial power (the Vanishers--the bastards even colonise the book's title!) not just to the world but to the psyches of everyone involved. This book isn't sugar coating how hard it is to love healthily when you live in an unhealthy world.It's an intensely Viet world, with things like intimacy levels and one's own gender expressed in speech in a way English doesn't do, and beautifully realised. This author's novellas are masterclasses in storytelling, worldbuilding and imagination packed into small spaces. Hugely recommended.
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  • Genevieve Cogman
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it. A beautiful read - rich, detailed, enjoyable, meaningful.
  • mo
    January 1, 1970
    f/f beauty and the beast retelling with DRAGONS? sign me the fuck up 👌👀👌👀👌👀👌👀👌👀
  • charlotte
    January 1, 1970
    And then she'd wake up, gasping, trying to breathe, raising her hands to her face, remembering Vu Côn's touch on her skin, as wet and as cold as the oily river. Review also on Reads Rainbow Galley provided by publisherIn The Vanishers' Palace is the first book by Aliette de Bodard that I've read, and boy is it a good one. It's an f/f, dark fantasy inspired by Beauty and the Beast and Vietnamese mythology, with dragons. If the whole premise doesn't get you, I don't know what will. (Perhaps an A And then she'd wake up, gasping, trying to breathe, raising her hands to her face, remembering Vu Côn's touch on her skin, as wet and as cold as the oily river. Review also on Reads Rainbow Galley provided by publisherIn The Vanishers' Palace is the first book by Aliette de Bodard that I've read, and boy is it a good one. It's an f/f, dark fantasy inspired by Beauty and the Beast and Vietnamese mythology, with dragons. If the whole premise doesn't get you, I don't know what will. (Perhaps an AO3 tags style description of the book by the author herself?)The thing I most loved about this book was the relationship between Yên and Vu Côn. It starts off cold and unfriendly, given that Vu Côn effectively kidnaps Yên in "payment" for healing a member of the village. But there is still attraction there, and Aliette de Bodard develops it really well into something more romantic. And manages to have both Yên and Vu Côn develop as characters individually as well. (As do Liên and Thông, which was good to see, as they were more side characters.)The writing and worldbuilding was also really good. The reader is somewhat thrown straight into the world with not that much explanation at times (especially with regard to the Vanishers), so I found that a bit difficult from time to time. Not so much that my enjoyment of the book was impacted at all, but still noticeably.So, in summary, you should definitely mark this book to read. Because who doesn't love fairytale reimaginings, especially when they're sapphic. Aliette de Bodard is definitely an author I'll be coming back to.
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  • Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
    January 1, 1970
    riends, I am very, very choosy about my “Beauty and the Beast” retellings. To the best of my recollection, the only one that I have ever loved is Robin McKinley’s Beauty. I liked Uprooted, but I loved it best when it was doing things other than retelling “Beauty and the Beast.” I hear good things about W. R. Gingell’s Masque, but I am not pinning my hopes on it. So when I tell you that I was blown away by Aliette de Bodard’s novella In the Vanishers’ Palace, a queer retelling of “Beauty and the riends, I am very, very choosy about my “Beauty and the Beast” retellings. To the best of my recollection, the only one that I have ever loved is Robin McKinley’s Beauty. I liked Uprooted, but I loved it best when it was doing things other than retelling “Beauty and the Beast.” I hear good things about W. R. Gingell’s Masque, but I am not pinning my hopes on it. So when I tell you that I was blown away by Aliette de Bodard’s novella In the Vanishers’ Palace, a queer retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” I want you to understand that the bar was high, and In the Vanishers’ Palace easily cleared it.Yên is living on borrowed time. After the world was poisoned by the Vanishers, who introduced viruses and gene mutations and ruined everything and then left, villages only keep people around if they’re useful, and Yên knows she isn’t. So it’s not much of a surprise when the village offers her to the shapeshifter dragon Vu Côn in payment of a healing Vu Côn has performed for them. When she gets to Vu Côn’s palace, she learns that she’s to be a tutor: Vu Côn is a mother, and doesn’t have the time to provide an adequate education to her twin teenagers. But the longer Yên stays at the palace, the more drawn she is to Vu Côn.The device of the Beast needing the Beauty for something specific is a brilliant one. So often in these retellings, the Beauty character has nothing much to do except wander around the palace poking her nose into things and getting into trouble. Here, Yên immediately has a task, and Aliette de Bodard won my heart completely with these two kids. The truism about teenagers is that they’re sulky, uncompliant, and irresponsible. Thông and Liên are definitely finding ways to separate themselves from their mother, as teenagers do, — especially Thông — but they both care deeply about being good people and doing the right thing. It’s a major subplot in the book! How to raise children into good people; how to be a good person despite one’s worst instincts. In these troubled times, but also always, these are themes that resonate with me very strongly.The bigger pitfall in “Beauty and the Beast” stories is, of course, consent. Fairy tales have a dreamy, unspecified quality that makes it possible for them to get away with leaving a lot of things unexplained. Retellings don’t have that luxury, and it’s rare for me to feel happy with the way an author manages the question of whether Beauty, a lifelong prisoner, can meaningfully consent to a relationship with her captor. In the Vanishers’ Palace cares deeply about this question, and the broader corollary of what it looks like to be the more powerful one in a relationship. What can we decide for the ones we love? What should we? Vu Côn grapples with this throughout the book, and I love where she ends up.An atmospheric gem of a retelling. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy when it comes out tomorrow.PS: In the language of the book, “I” pronouns are gendered, so that when a person says “I” you immediately know what pronouns to use for them. What a great idea! Is English working on this? Gendered first-person neopronouns? Can we have those?PPS: I received an e-ARC of this book for review consideration.PPPS: This review was originally posted on my blog: http://readingtheend.com/2018/10/15/r...
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  • The Captain
    January 1, 1970
    Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy/sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .I have read some of the author's short stories and enjoy her writing style.  This is a beauty and the beast retelling based on Vietnamese myths and culture.  The story is an interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi.  The tale takes place in a world destroyed by an alien race called the Vanishers.  The Vanishers used Earth as a plaything and left chaos behi Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy/sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .I have read some of the author's short stories and enjoy her writing style.  This is a beauty and the beast retelling based on Vietnamese myths and culture.  The story is an interesting blend of fantasy and sci-fi.  The tale takes place in a world destroyed by an alien race called the Vanishers.  The Vanishers used Earth as a plaything and left chaos behind.  Humans are barely surviving in the barren wasteland.  Disease, starvation, and lack of resources are the norm.  In order to have a place in society, members must have viable skills to keep their place.  Life is harsh and unfair. Yên lives in one such settlement.  She is a failed scholar and barely adequate healer's apprentice.  Her position in the village is due to her mother's skill as a healer.  But one day, a prominent leader's daughter is diagnosed with a fatal disease.  Should she die, both Yên and her mother's places are forfeit.  So Yên's mother makes a magical bargain with a dragon for the girl's life.  Only the price of the healing turns out to be Yên's servitude to the dragon.  Yên is taken to the Vanishers' palace to be a teacher to the dragon's two children.  Only Yên is drawn to the dragon.  What will become of her?I have to say that this was just an okay read for me.  I had a hard time getting drawn into the story.  I liked many of the individual elements but the story didn't end up being an cohesive whole.  I loved the "word" magic.  I loved the f/f relationship.  I loved Yên's mother.  I enjoyed the blend of sci-fi and fantasy elements.  I liked that Yên stood up for herself and demanded to be allowed to make her own choices.  And yet the excitement was lacking. Part of that may have been the dragon's aloof nature.  Part of that was the many descriptions of the odd architecture and nature of the palace itself.  I didn't really even feel the fairy tale retelling vibe.  But overall, I am not sure what the disconnect was.  I just did not love this story like others by the author.  This story does seem to be loved by many of the crew.  So while this story was not mesmerizing, I am glad to have read it.  And I still will be readin' more of the author's work.  So lastly . . .Thank you JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.!Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    In the Vanishers' Palace is the third Beauty and the Beast retelling I've read recently (I can't help it, it's my favourite fairytale so I can never resist retellings!) and I think it was the most unique of the three. Aliette de Bodard has created a really interesting world based on Vietnamese mythology which I just wanted to spend more time exploring. I could happily read book after book set in this world learning more about the Vanishers who devastated the earth before disappearing and leaving In the Vanishers' Palace is the third Beauty and the Beast retelling I've read recently (I can't help it, it's my favourite fairytale so I can never resist retellings!) and I think it was the most unique of the three. Aliette de Bodard has created a really interesting world based on Vietnamese mythology which I just wanted to spend more time exploring. I could happily read book after book set in this world learning more about the Vanishers who devastated the earth before disappearing and leaving humanity behind trying to pick up the pieces.This is an f/f retelling where the beast is actually a shapeshifting dragon, with a full asian cast and plenty of diversity which is another huge plus for me. I loved that there were a couple of gender neutral characters and nobody seemed to bat an eyelid at same sex relationships, that was all just a normal and accepted part of the world just like it should be.Yên's mother is a healer and Yên has always been her apprentice and a scholar but their family is very low in the hierarchy of their village and the Elders have very little use for Yên so when they need to give a sacrifice to the dragon Yên is the one who is chosen to be sent away. Yên knows she's been given a death sentence, everyone knows the dragon is a murderer, but she knows she'll never be accepted in another village and it's too dangerous to be wandering around unprotected so she has no choice, especially when the Elders threaten her mother if she doesn't go along with them.Vu Côn may be a dragon but she is nothing like what Yên is expecting, instead she finds that Vu Côn is a compassionate healer who would do anything to protect her children. Yên is given the task of teaching the twins, Liên and Thông, and quickly starts to settle into life in the palace. What she doesn't realise is that Vu Côn is keeping a major secret, one that Yên will find very difficult to forgive.I've already mentioned how much I enjoyed the world Aliette de Bodard has created and I can't say enough how much I want to spend more time exploring it. I did feel that the romance between Yên and Vu Côn felt a little rushed to me and unfortunately the sex scene was more of a turn off than a turn on thanks to the way Vu Côn's human form was described. Every time Yên mentions touching Vu Côn she uses words like cold and slimy, even when the dragon is in human form and to be honest I was a bit creeped out when she started changing back into her dragon form while they were in the middle of having sex. I just don't think snouts and slimy tails have any place in the bedroom!This was the first story I've read by Aliette de Bodard and even though there were parts of it that didn't work quite so well for me I'm definitely interested in trying more of her books, she has a really lovely writing style and her world building was very creative so I'm looking forward to seeing what else she can come up with.______________Thoughts before reading:An f/f Beauty and the Beast retelling WITH DRAGONS! Hell yes, sign me up for this one!
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  • Crini
    January 1, 1970
    In the Vanishers' Palace is a f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast but with a DRAGON. Aliette de Bodard did an excellent job on this one!The writing and the world she created was just MAGICAL. I immediately fell in love with the setting and the characters. And it's not just a romance but also so much about family and motherhood and has the most adorable pair of siblings!.5/5 from me for an adorable romance, a mind-fuck of a setting, being hella queer (bi/lesbian/non-binary characters of color), In the Vanishers' Palace is a f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast but with a DRAGON. Aliette de Bodard did an excellent job on this one!The writing and the world she created was just MAGICAL. I immediately fell in love with the setting and the characters. And it's not just a romance but also so much about family and motherhood and has the most adorable pair of siblings!.5/5 from me for an adorable romance, a mind-fuck of a setting, being hella queer (bi/lesbian/non-binary characters of color), beautiful writing, precious siblings, and being an overall gloriously dark retelling (more of the original than the Disney version too I would think).
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  • Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve been telling everyone I know about In the Vanishers’ Palace, a f/f retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”… with dragons! So get ready for a really excited review.Yên is a failed scholar in a harsh world. She and her mother are barely accepted in their village community for her mother’s skills as a healer, but Yên knows their situation is precarious and that they are likely to someday be cast out or killed. When Yên’s mother summons the dragon Vu Côn to heal the daughter of a village leader, Vu I’ve been telling everyone I know about In the Vanishers’ Palace, a f/f retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”… with dragons! So get ready for a really excited review.Yên is a failed scholar in a harsh world. She and her mother are barely accepted in their village community for her mother’s skills as a healer, but Yên knows their situation is precarious and that they are likely to someday be cast out or killed. When Yên’s mother summons the dragon Vu Côn to heal the daughter of a village leader, Vu Côn demands a life in payment. The village chooses Yên, and she’s sent to Vu Côn’s home in the labyrinthine palace left behind by the rulers of the world. Yên thinks she will die, but she soon finds that Vu Côn has another use for her: Vu Côn is the mother of two, and she needs a tutor for her unruly children.First of all, In the Vanishers’ Palace is beautifully written. Aliette de Bodard’s prose is always on point. If you want evidence, just read one of her short stories — she’s got a multitude of fabulous tales floating around the internet.Similarly, de Bodard never fails to create breathtaking and complex worlds. In particular, I love how In the Vanishers’ Palace mixes science fiction and fantasy elements together. Magic and aliens. What a delightful combination! The aliens in question invaded the world and unleashed havoc, creating genetically engineered viruses that run rampant through the population. For unknown reasons, they left the world behind, but the world is a shattered ruin in their wake. In the Vanishers’ Palace is an excellent stand-alone story, but the world de Bodard has created is the best sort: the type that seems to stretch beyond the limits of the page. Oh, and it’s worth noting that this world doesn’t include homophobia or transphobia and that nonbinary genders are completely accepted.The narration switches between Yên and Vu Côn, and I enjoyed both of them as protagonists. I will admit that I had moments where I questioned what Vu Côn saw in Yên; it felt like most of their interactions were very brief. Relatedly, I sometimes felt like the romance was moving too fast, although in the end, I was okay with how it developed. Still, more emphasis on character interactions couldn’t have hurt. I also would have liked to see more of Yên tutoring the twins (who are delightful!).The original “Beauty and the Beast” tale obviously has some consent issues, and de Bodard brings those to the forefront here. Motherhood is also a huge theme of In the Vanishers’ Palace, both because Vu Côn is a mother and because of Yên’s relationship with her own mother. In general, In the Vanishers’ Palace takes the premise of the old fairy tale and recenters it around women as well as placing it in a Vietnamese cultural context.I loved In the Vanishers’ Palace, and I know I’ll be recommending it going forward.I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.Review from The Illustrated Page.
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    The setting is a post-apocalyptic disaster left by a biotech-based singularity with Clarke's Law in full effect. In that completely alien setting de Bodard gives us a queer retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where the Dragon Vu Côn accepts the life of the young scholar Yên in payment for an act of healing. Yên thinks she's doomed, bu Vu Côn has her teaching the Dragon's two foundling children Thông and Liên in an effort to ready them for a life beyond the Dragon's abode in the Vanishers' Palace. The setting is a post-apocalyptic disaster left by a biotech-based singularity with Clarke's Law in full effect. In that completely alien setting de Bodard gives us a queer retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where the Dragon Vu Côn accepts the life of the young scholar Yên in payment for an act of healing. Yên thinks she's doomed, bu Vu Côn has her teaching the Dragon's two foundling children Thông and Liên in an effort to ready them for a life beyond the Dragon's abode in the Vanishers' Palace. (The Vanishers' are the super-beings responsible for the devastation of the world).Full marks for the brilliant world-building and amazing setup, and while I enjoyed the relationships between each of the characters here, I found there points-of-view to be just a little too alien for me to relate to. I liked how the story interrogated the issues of consent in relationships like this, and I also really liked the characters and Vu Côn especially, but I felt that at several points in the story the actions taken by the characters didn't follow from what I understood of their motivations. Overall that left me a bit cold towards it all.Even so, I think the shear inventiveness of this makes it worth a read, and your mileage may vary in terms of how you relate to the characters.
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  • Heather Jones
    January 1, 1970
    One of the reasons I anxiously anticipate every new Aliette de Bodard release is because I can just assume there will be casual queerness somewhere in every story. (Note: I’m not entirely fond of the wording “incidental lesbians” that has become popular in lesfic circles because I’m not interested in either the characters or their orientations being “incidental”--I want them to be essential to the story, just not in a way that makes orientation or identity itself the essence of the story. For me One of the reasons I anxiously anticipate every new Aliette de Bodard release is because I can just assume there will be casual queerness somewhere in every story. (Note: I’m not entirely fond of the wording “incidental lesbians” that has become popular in lesfic circles because I’m not interested in either the characters or their orientations being “incidental”--I want them to be essential to the story, just not in a way that makes orientation or identity itself the essence of the story. For me “casual queerness” better evokes the thing that makes me happy.)In the Vanishers’ Palace not only has casual queerness, it has casual Vietnamese-rooted fantasy in a post-apocalyptic, post-colonial setting that evokes the experience of having had your entire world and culture trampled and ruined, without direct reference to specific historic events. But that’s only the context, not the story itself.Yên is a failed scholar, trying to help her mother heal their fellow villagers of the myriad plagues left by the genetic tinkering of the departed Vanishers. Vu Côn is a dragon--a shape-shifting river spirit. Her healing assistance can be begged for a price. When Yên’s mother heals the daughter of an important family with Vu Côn’s help, her own life is that price and Yên is driven both by filial piety and despair to demand to take her place.As the story is billed as a Beauty and the Beast take-off, one may easily (and correctly) guess where this is going, but beyond the theme of falling in love with a frightening creature, don’t expect the plot to follow the traditional lines. The in-story forces that keep Yên and Vu Côn at arms’ length rise out of the cultural setting: the social dynamics of status and respect, the power differential when supernatural creatures are involved, but with not even a hint that the same-sex aspect is a relevant issue. That’s what I mean by “casual” queerness. And as we delve deeper into the looming dangers of the Vanishers’ palace--a warped space of impossible geometries and fatal traps--the fantasy trappings merge seamlessly with science-fictional ones to create a genre that defies categories.The happy ending never feels guaranteed, despite genre expectations, making it feel well-earned. In sum: I loved loved loved this novella, both for the exquisite writing that I’ve come to expect from de Bodard, and for the way I feel seen and included as a reader.
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  • Zen Cho
    January 1, 1970
    An intense, atmospheric read from a brilliant writer.
  • Leseparatist
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley, in exchange for a review. In the Vanishers' Palace has been described as a sapphic retelling of The Beauty and the Beast. This is true, though it focuses on the parts of the book I liked the least, at the expense of those I liked best. This novella tells the story of Yên, a scholar (and teacher) and daughter of a village healer, and Vu Côn - a dragon, and mother to two teenagers just coming into their own powers. All this happens against the I read this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley, in exchange for a review. In the Vanishers' Palace has been described as a sapphic retelling of The Beauty and the Beast. This is true, though it focuses on the parts of the book I liked the least, at the expense of those I liked best. This novella tells the story of Yên, a scholar (and teacher) and daughter of a village healer, and Vu Côn - a dragon, and mother to two teenagers just coming into their own powers. All this happens against the backdrop of a devastated, post-apocalyptic (postcolonial) world of danger, disease and human unkindness. The worldbuilding is superb. The Vietnamese cultural and linguistic inspiration is rendered in exquisite and beautiful detail, and combined with science fictional ideas that would be enough for a whole saga of novels. The descriptions of words and their power were worth the admission price all on their own. They were spellbinding. I liked the family relationships, too. The bonds between Yên and her mother, and especially between Vu Côn and her children are written well and when the latter receives narrative attention, the book becomes quite gripping.Unfortunately, (and YMMV here,) the sapphic aspect of the book didn't command comparable attention from me. I found the plotting and pacing, particularly with regard to the romantic storyline, to be relatively uninteresting. I didn't see much chemistry between the characters (despite occasionally great descriptions of desire). To me, their relationship lacked depth and the emotions they experienced didn't ring true or seem compelling. I really wanted to care about the romantic storyline, but I didn't. I wish some aspects of the world and particularly characters actions and emotions had been explained a little more clearly. Occasionally, the story seemed to assume certain actions and decisions have obvious motivations, when that was not quite the case; at other moments, characters reacted with shock and surprise to actions that seemed entirely in character based on everything we (and they) knew. All in all, I am glad I read the novella for its descriptions and language, but I wish the plot had been stronger.
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  • Alexa
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I had to read this entire book before I realised it's written by the author of The Tea Master and the Detective, the Sherlock retelling I've been meaning to read.In The Vanishers' Palace is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast where Beauty is a scholar and the Beast is a spirit dragon that lives in a Palace impossible to understand. Also, they're both women.This was a brilliantly written novel with fantastically visual descripti I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I had to read this entire book before I realised it's written by the author of The Tea Master and the Detective, the Sherlock retelling I've been meaning to read.In The Vanishers' Palace is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast where Beauty is a scholar and the Beast is a spirit dragon that lives in a Palace impossible to understand. Also, they're both women.This was a brilliantly written novel with fantastically visual descriptions, although it made my head spin sometimes. The world and the culture whose mythology its based on was very unfamiliar and sometimes I felt like I was lacking some basic knowledge to really understand, but I still enjoyed becoming familiar.The book has two major nonbinary side characters, but that is not the only reason why it's nonbinary-friendly. Nobody's gender in this book is assumed by their appearance, and they are only referred to with gendered terms once they established it with the language they use for themselves.Read the full review on my blog, A Thousand Worlds.
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  • Shealea
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who actively advocates Asian-inspired fantasies, no one is more disappointed in me for not liking this book... than, well, myself. I really, really wanted to love this. I was so excited to dive in!But... nothing worked for me. In the Vanishers’ Palace is easily the weirdest book I’ve read this year. It’s messy and confusing and ugh, I need some time to process all of this.Quick thoughts:- All sorts of weirdness going on.- What was really the plot here? And how is this a retelling of B As someone who actively advocates Asian-inspired fantasies, no one is more disappointed in me for not liking this book... than, well, myself. I really, really wanted to love this. I was so excited to dive in!But... nothing worked for me. In the Vanishers’ Palace is easily the weirdest book I’ve read this year. It’s messy and confusing and ugh, I need some time to process all of this.Quick thoughts:- All sorts of weirdness going on.- What was really the plot here? And how is this a retelling of Beauty and the Beast? It all seemed farfetched to me.- Beastiality that I 100% could not appreciate. Dragon sex??? Algae aftertaste from a kiss??? Oily???- The characters had no personality at all.- Absolutely no chemistry between Vu Côn and Yên. Their relationship was so poorly developed.- A ton of cringing on my part.- I was happy to see an all-Vietnamese cast.- The magic system was confusing for me, too.- The Vanishers???- I swear, I tried really, really hard to like this bUT I JUST CAN'T.Full review to follow!Rating: 1 star.* Find more of my bookish shenanigans in my natural habitat!
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  • Devann
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley.This is billed as a F/F Beauty and the Beast retelling where the Beast is a dragon and definitely the bare bones of the B&tB story are there, but this is very much its own story. I for one was very thankful for that because I'm always afraid with B&tB retellings that they are going to stay too close to the original and it will be too Stockholm Syndromy for me, but this one was really cute and I liked the way it developed and moved away f I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley.This is billed as a F/F Beauty and the Beast retelling where the Beast is a dragon and definitely the bare bones of the B&tB story are there, but this is very much its own story. I for one was very thankful for that because I'm always afraid with B&tB retellings that they are going to stay too close to the original and it will be too Stockholm Syndromy for me, but this one was really cute and I liked the way it developed and moved away from the standard story as it went on. The world is very interesting and the characters were enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who is looking for a short F/F story with a fairytale twist.
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  • Runalong
    January 1, 1970
    Great SF (or is it fantasy?) retelling of Beauty and the Beast Full review - In The Vanisher's Palace by Aliette de Bodard https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl... Great SF (or is it fantasy?) retelling of Beauty and the Beast Full review - ‪In The Vanisher's Palace by Aliette de Bodard https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl...‬
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  • Book Gannet
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful, incredibly imaginative story that really rewards a slow, savouring read, where you can best enjoy the sumptuous imagery and clever world-building. The way it tackles the familiar Beauty and the Beast story, by mixing Vietnamese mythology and post-colonial destruction with intriguing sci-fi elements, really worked for me. B&tB is one of my favourite fairy tales, so it was lovely to get such an original re-imagining. The fact that Vu Côn is a dragon was just more icing on This is a beautiful, incredibly imaginative story that really rewards a slow, savouring read, where you can best enjoy the sumptuous imagery and clever world-building. The way it tackles the familiar Beauty and the Beast story, by mixing Vietnamese mythology and post-colonial destruction with intriguing sci-fi elements, really worked for me. B&tB is one of my favourite fairy tales, so it was lovely to get such an original re-imagining. The fact that Vu Côn is a dragon was just more icing on an already delicious cake.I loved the world-building, it’s the best part of this story for me, but I liked the characters too. Yên is definitely a woman out of place, desperate to find a way to fit – not just inside the Vanisher’s palace, but in the world beyond where she was viewed as not useful enough. I liked her, but I also found her a little dull compared to the others. Her mother is much more interesting, and I liked both children, Thông and Liên. However, I wish we could have actually seen a lesson and how Yên tackled teaching them. Vu Côn was fascinating, and had many changes to make in her behaviour and beliefs, although I’m still not sure what drew her to Yên.It is a short read, though, and I think the romance suffered the most because of it. These two don’t spend much time together, their feelings aren’t really explored and the sex scene was a bit too close to monster porn for my personal tastes. Which is a shame, because there are flashes of sweetness between them, but mostly the wider plot is busy getting in the way and forcing their attention elsewhere.Which is fine, because the wider plot is fascinating and intriguing and has a lot to say about living in a post-colonial world. So even though it isn’t perfect, it’s still beautiful and well worth a repeat read.(ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.)
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  • Naw
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed the writing and the world-building of this book, but the scenes of intimacy between the two main characters made me feel very uncomfortable.Bestiality, even when it's only partial like here, is just cringe-inducing for me. Especially with the vocabulary used repeatedly to describe the dragon (even when in human form)... Slimy, for example, doesn't make it sound really appealing, I believe. Now it never went into graphic territory so rest assured, if you're like me, you can still I really enjoyed the writing and the world-building of this book, but the scenes of intimacy between the two main characters made me feel very uncomfortable.Bestiality, even when it's only partial like here, is just cringe-inducing for me. Especially with the vocabulary used repeatedly to describe the dragon (even when in human form)... Slimy, for example, doesn't make it sound really appealing, I believe. Now it never went into graphic territory so rest assured, if you're like me, you can still read this quite safely without ending up traumatized.Also, I thought the story really took its time to set everything in motion, to create an atmosphere and give us a taste of the world we were discovering... But somehow the ending felt rushed and quite anticlimactic in my opinion.This is still excellent literature, though, and I definitely will be checking out other works by Aliette de Bodard, which I'm sure I'll be able to enjoy much more without cringing as long as it doesn't involve make-out sessions between human mouths and dragon snouts.
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  • Freya Marske
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it! It's pitched as an f/f Beauty and the Beast retelling with dragons, but it also dwells firmly in the Gothic & governess romance novel genres: it's about a girl going to live in a house which is hiding secrets, and about that girl becoming a teacher to a strange, stern person's children. I adored the Escherspace palace, the casually incredible worldbuilding, and the threads of painfully human emotion tying all the characters together.
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  • Lauren James
    January 1, 1970
    A f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a Vietnamese setting, with a shapeshifting dragon doctor. 'Beauty' acts as the governess for her adopted children, in a mysterious castle which was designed as a dangerous trap from a race of people who inflicted viruses on the world. Really unique and interesting, and it definitely stands out from the other multiple retellings of this fairy tale.
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  • l.
    January 1, 1970
    This could have been a good book but it’s just not there. The dragon character doesn’t work. Not as a dragon, not as a spirit, not as a love interest. And our heroine just doesn’t have much of a personality which is a must for a fairytale retelling! The illness angle was really disappointing tbh. It did absolutely nothing for her character. But really on the romance front, what was the intention there? there’s never a sense of them being equals, never a sense of a real connection, never an explo This could have been a good book but it’s just not there. The dragon character doesn’t work. Not as a dragon, not as a spirit, not as a love interest. And our heroine just doesn’t have much of a personality which is a must for a fairytale retelling! The illness angle was really disappointing tbh. It did absolutely nothing for her character. But really on the romance front, what was the intention there? there’s never a sense of them being equals, never a sense of a real connection, never an exploration of why or what the attraction means. There’s nothing there. As to the twins... they are not written in a way that makes you invested in them. It’s actually really hard to get a grasp on what their personalities are so the whole climax revolving around their identity... why would the reader care? A related point: the vanishers’ magic and history had the potential to be really interesting but it’s more alluded to just as Dark Malice and Evil Times than really explored.There also should have been more of a relationship between the heroine and her one human friend, or the friend should have been cut. It was just disappointing.
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    So here for this 'dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where both are women and the Beast is a dragon' I have never been a fan of BatB but make it gay and turn the Beast into a dragon and it'll become an instant preorderrrrr
  • Ceillie Simkiss
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to come but y'all need this book.
  • Kate Heceta
    January 1, 1970
    I really, really, really wanted to like this. I'm always ready to bat for Asian representation in fantasy but this was just...Review to follow while I gather my thoughts.
  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsA f/f Vietnamese retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a dystopian world recovering from colonizing assholes?I wanted so, so much to love this. It has everything I love: f/f, Vietnamese setting written by a Vietnamese author, fairy tale retelling, a whole host of LGBT characters.And yet while I loved the beautiful, lyrical prose, it fell short for me. Like Bodard's previous novella, The Tea Master and the Detective, I enjoyed the overall story but the nuance flew right over my head. 3.5 starsA f/f Vietnamese retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a dystopian world recovering from colonizing assholes?I wanted so, so much to love this. It has everything I love: f/f, Vietnamese setting written by a Vietnamese author, fairy tale retelling, a whole host of LGBT characters.And yet while I loved the beautiful, lyrical prose, it fell short for me. Like Bodard's previous novella, The Tea Master and the Detective, I enjoyed the overall story but the nuance flew right over my head. And that's okay.I know that this will resonate for many others, however: for an audience who has grown up under colonizers who came and and took everything and left—taking all of the resources, polluting the earth and the people and leaving nothing but devastation, ruin and their own destructive views of what constitutes worth in a person.It's for people who have lost everything except for hope, and then realize that they can come together to dismantle the colonizing structures and heal at last. It's for people who are rebuilding and becoming stronger than ever—even if they transform in the process—in the choices that they can now make for themselves.I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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  • Marzie
    January 1, 1970
    4.75 StarsImagine a post-apocalyptic Vietnamese f/f retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" with a dragon-lady Beast and you'd find yourself in the world of In the Vanisher's Palace. Yên, a young woman who has failed her university entrance exams, lives in a world ravaged by cruel colonizers called the Vanishers, who broke and despoiled the Earth and then abandoned it. Poisons and viruses sweep the Earth. Healers, who use what weak magic they possess, try in vain to heal. Yên's mother, Kim Ngoc, des 4.75 StarsImagine a post-apocalyptic Vietnamese f/f retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" with a dragon-lady Beast and you'd find yourself in the world of In the Vanisher's Palace. Yên, a young woman who has failed her university entrance exams, lives in a world ravaged by cruel colonizers called the Vanishers, who broke and despoiled the Earth and then abandoned it. Poisons and viruses sweep the Earth. Healers, who use what weak magic they possess, try in vain to heal. Yên's mother, Kim Ngoc, desperately tries to save a young woman, Oanh, by summoning a dragon healer from the spirit realm. The dragon, Vu Côn, takes the form of a cold and proud woman. She heals Oanh but claims Yên as her price for being summoned. Yên is drawn with her into the spirit world of the Vanisher's Palace, meeting Vu Côn's children Thông (genderless) and Liên (female), and rather than being devoured, as she had expected to be, finds herself a governess to these two strange children. Increasingly attracted to one another, Vu Côn and Yên struggle with the boundaries of their relationship. Among the interesting subjects tackled in this novella is the issue of consent. As Vu Côn points out to her children, can a slave or servant ever truly grant consent? Even if freed, is sex given out of gratitude or obligation or out of genuine affection? Though a romantic relationship evolves between these two women, Vu Côn's secrets threaten to sabotage Yên's trust. Additionally, Vu Côn's high-handed decision-making infuriates Yên, who is evidently clever enough to be tutoring Vu Côn's children but not enough so to be informed of major choices being made about her own life, family, and health. Yên is not without her own flaws, however, and is too bound by her own prejudices. Both will have to change in order to achieve the sense of equality needed in a true relationship.This is another fascinating Aliette de Bodard story, with strong female characters and interesting perspectives on consent, colonialism, and racism. I just wish we had had a bit more background on the Vanishers.I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Crystal
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in return for an un-biased review. In the Vanisher’s Palace is imaginative. It is vivid and colorful. The book draws on Vietnamese language, culture and style. The author is herself a Franco-Vietnamese woman who has a strong rating on Goodreads. All that being true, I’m not sure why I had a difficult time with this book. I have a couple of theories.Number 1 – the source material. It is a loose re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. I love Belle a Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in return for an un-biased review. In the Vanisher’s Palace is imaginative. It is vivid and colorful. The book draws on Vietnamese language, culture and style. The author is herself a Franco-Vietnamese woman who has a strong rating on Goodreads. All that being true, I’m not sure why I had a difficult time with this book. I have a couple of theories.Number 1 – the source material. It is a loose re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. I love Belle as much as the next girl, but I think we’re all adult enough to admit that story is problematic at best. A young woman of promise is abducted and falls in love with her captor. Ms. de Bodard does a good job of trying to ameliorate these issues that are hard boiled into the plot. Her Beauty and Beast (in this case a dragon/woman hybrid) have an immediate attraction. This lays to rest ideas of Stockholm syndrome, but in the process some of the tension is lost. In fact, the characters become romantically involved very early in the book. Then there is the dragon sex. Maybe some readers will like it, it’s just not my jam. I like the dragons though! The castle is also mind bending and a real plus!Number 2 – I had trouble understanding what was going on sometimes. I’ve encountered this with some other fantasy books. The reader is thrust into a situation where the learning curve is high, and there is not enough opportunity to familiarize yourself with what is going on. In this case, there was a history of “Vanisher’s” who at some point left the planet after first abusing the population and ruining the environment. But you’re never quite sure what was going on with them, how are they connected to the current cast of characters, and what exactly went on here. I need to have a more concrete understanding of a book by at least 50% and in this case I didn’t.I think this book could be appreciated by other readers. I am not the right person for this one. My thinking is a little too linear I think to appreciate what the author was going for.Song for this book: The Light Before We Land by The Delgados
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  • Nicole Field
    January 1, 1970
    This heavily Viet inspired fantasy written by a French author is utterly unlike anything I have read before. I heard it talked about as a f/f Beauty and the Beast retelling where the beast is a dragon, and while that summary piqued my interest, I also think that this book is so much more than that. True, one of the main characters is a dragon, who can shift forms to look human. But the way she thinks is incredibly other, consistently so, which I liked. I also loved her two wards and the secret t This heavily Viet inspired fantasy written by a French author is utterly unlike anything I have read before. I heard it talked about as a f/f Beauty and the Beast retelling where the beast is a dragon, and while that summary piqued my interest, I also think that this book is so much more than that. True, one of the main characters is a dragon, who can shift forms to look human. But the way she thinks is incredibly other, consistently so, which I liked. I also loved her two wards and the secret they carry.The Vanishers were once a race of creatures who used the world to their own ends and didn't care who else or what else they hurt before they disappeared, leaving a world filled with diseases and magic that those left don't quite understand. Yên's family suffers one such disease when the book opens, before she is sold to Vu Côn in exchange for healing. The Vanisher's palace, where she comes to live, is so confusing to read, which I think is exactly the point, but I will admit to finding that at times off putting. Which, again, was likely the point. Although this is a romance, the plot and various friendships were more fleshed out than the eventual couple who ended up getting together by the end. But it was honestly difficult to understand what their relationship could be like as not enough time was given in the story to establish how they could work together.
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