In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison revisits her fantasy realm of subtle magics, ominous spirits and political intrigue. The novel, which follows The Witness for the Dead, is Addison's sensitive and compelling second entry in the fantasy-mystery series The Cemeteries of Amalo.
Fresh from the execution of a murderer he apprehended, Thara Celehar, who is a Witness for the Dead, uses his ability to read the memories of the recently departed to investigate a new case. An elderly marquise has died of an apparent cardiac event, but her husband insists she was murdered. Othalo Tomasin, a genteel elven widow training as a Witness for the Dead, joins Celehar on the case. Their efforts lead them to a girls' foundling school where something seems awry, and into their city's seedy underbelly and to a horrifying discovery about the haunted Hill of Werewolves. Whether or not justice is done, Celehar will not survive without serious consequences.
Addison delivers more of the insightful, character-driven drama that fans of the Locus Award-winning The Goblin Emperor have come to expect. She continues to flesh out life in the city of Amalo, a place where religious sects jockey for power and photographers are considered a criminal element. Although the occasional airship reminds readers of the series' steampunk underpinnings, the story truly leans into its gothic elements of ill-treated women, ghostly visitations and eerie settings. Addison brings back familiar faces and introduces intriguing new characters, including an opera director who may carry a torch for Celehar. The ending sees Celehar facing a heartbreaking, potentially insurmountable challenge and will leave readers hungry for the sequel. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads