Hello Humans! I’m doing some catching up on reviews today which is very fun and satisfying (I’ve made a big list for the sole purpose of the extasy that comes with ticking things off). One such recent read was Widow’s Welcome, a book which first came to my attention in a copy of the Bookseller. I rarely find things I want to read in the ‘upcoming books’ section but there was one month where there seemed to be something good on every page. I’ve really got into fantasy mystery novels lately and I was interested in the concept of Widow’s Welcome – so when it popped up on NetGalley I thought it was as good a time as any to read it!
Dead bodies aren’t unusual in the alleyways of Fenest. Muggings, brawls gone bad, debts collected—Detective Cora Gorderheim has seen it all. Until she finds a Wayward man with his mouth sewn shut. As Detective Gorderheim pieces together the dead man’s story, she’s drawn into the most dangerous story in the Union of Realms: the election. Gorderheim just wants to find a killer but nothing’s that simple in an election year. Dark forces conspire against the Union and Gorderheim finds herself at the rotten core of it all. She’ll find the killer, but at what cost?
So, this concept is amazing. It took me a while to properly understand how things worked but essentially the government in this world is decided based on the votes for stories told by storytellers from respective members of various societies. I thought that was incredibly cool. It’s not the first time fantasy authors have played with the idea that stories have power, but tying that to government and elections felt like a new and fresh idea to me. As I say, I’m not sure this is conveyed enough at the start of the book and I might have appreciated a little bit more of an explanation as to why that is, but once you know what’s happening it isn’t too difficult to follow.
Let’s talk about detective Cora. I love a female detective and I thought Cora was a good example. I liked having that sort of ‘gritty grumbly’ detective trope, and it is a trope, but also Cora is pretty sex positive which was refreshing. I enjoyed reading her character and I would be interested in reading more, perhaps getting a bit deeper into her backstory and motivations beyond ‘solve crime’.
My biggest criticism of this book is that it feels incredibly strangely balanced. As you might expect, a large portion of this book is given over to solving the murder. However, at an early stage in the book, it switches to being one of the stories being told as part of the election. That was fine and to be expected, in fact, I would have been disappointed if I hadn’t got to hear one of the stories. But that story takes up probably a third of the book. It was a really good story and I would probably have happily read it as a novella, but it felt so strange to me that something that didn’t actually have that much bearing on the plot took up such a huge portion of the book. You only get one other ‘story’ in the book and it takes up much less time – so it just felt odd to me. I think if you went in knowing that was going to happen it would be less jarring but for me, it was a surprise and it did affect my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
Overall, I liked this, I’d certainly enjoy another book in the same world – I want to hear more stories and how they relate to politics – that part was incredibly cool. But I think this book has a little bit of work needed to make it live up to that concept in a way that it just doesn’t quite do.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Widow’s Welcome publishes August 8th!
What say you? Will you be reading Widow’s Welcome? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!