REVIEW: The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

Cover for The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison is the second book of the Cemeteries of Amalo series, a spin-off of The Goblin Emperor. This book, like Witness for the Dead, follows the prelate Thara Celahar as he works through petitions to speak, or witness for, the dead. He can do this because he is able to ‘feel’ the presence of the departed as long as the soul lingers in the body. In trying to witness, he often has to interrogate people, follow leads, and look for clues, which makes The Grief of Stones feel like a fantasy take on a police procedural.

“On a cloudy autumn day, I attended the execution of Broset Sheveldar.”

Cover of The Grief of Stones by Katherine AddisonThe story is told from Thara Celahar’s perspective, which gives us important insight into a character who must be hard to read for those not privy to his thoughts. Thara has many petitions throughout The Grief of Stones, but the overarching petition involves the death of an orphan girl who was murdered and has no one to speak for her or even claim that they had any relation to her. Her death reveals several threads that show a dark underbelly of Amalo that was not apparent in the Witness for the Dead. In terms of character growth, Thara combats some of the darkest parts of himself and, dare I say, even allows himself to be happy, now and again, despite his many regrets and losses. This is all in addition to Thara taking on the role of mentor for a Witness for the Dead in training named Othalo Tomasin. This dynamic shows different facets of Thara’s character, and even the kindness that he often hides come out a bit more in The Grief of Stones through the interactions he has with Othalo Tomasin.

“I emerged from the confines of the Ulzhavadeise compound into the teeth of a bitter wind.”

Katherine Addison’s prose in The Grief of Stones is strong and concise, yet the strongest point of her writing is definitely in the world-building. The religion, the races, and Amalo itself are all wonderfully realized in such a way that few other authors are able to do. I felt a connection to the city because the author made it feel like a real place, a character all its own.

“I slept patchily that night and woke to an overcast dawn; the light was gray and thin.”

The Grief of Stones is a fantastic novel that excels in its world-building. It will appeal to fans of fantasy and crime novels and is an improvement over the previous book of the series (which was also very good). I can wholeheartedly recommend this book and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Read The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

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