When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn in In The Vanisher’s Palace, 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…(Via Goodreads)
I received an eARC of In The Vanisher’s Palace from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I have never read anything by Aliette de Bodard before, but I intend to fix that in very short order, because In The Vanisher’s Palace was stunning.
At its heart, it is a dark, sapphic retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the Beast is actually a dragon. It is intensely and beautifully written, and I couldn’t put it down. The post-colonial Vietnamese world was magical, stunning and deadly.
Yên’s choices were so important to the narrative and to Vu Côn, which helped to fight back against the original story’s consent issues. Choices in general were so important to the way this story played out, as well as making your own path ahead, no matter where you came from originally.
I loved the slow way that the romance built up between Yên and Vu Côn. They also get developed fully as people on their own, which was wonderful. The importance that was placed on their respective families was refreshing to read. Thông and Liên were both adorable children and otherworldly beings, making for difficult students for Yên, but she tries anyway.
I loved the hopeful ending of In The Vanisher’s Palace. It was the perfect ending for this story about healing and the characters. Honestly, there wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this story. You should absolutely pick up a copy on Amazon. I guarantee you won’t regret it.