The Witness for the Dead

The Witness for the Dead
Katherine Addison, 2021

Premise: Set in the world of The Goblin Emperor. As a Witness, Thara Celehar investigates murder and deception while navigating hostility from other religious and political personnel.

Did...did I just read a fantasy noir? That was really good? Be still my heart! 

Don't misunderstand, this book isn't overtly stylized like a hardboiled detective novel, it doesn't read like a pastiche or parody. However...

  • The protagonist, despite being a sort of priest with a religious calling/inborn magical ability, functions as a private investigator on behalf of those who have passed away
  • The plot concerns several interwoven cases that involve corruption and/or scandal
  • The protagonist has a scandal in his backstory that sets him apart socially and emotionally from others
  • The protagonist is undermined by others in authority due to their own selfish motivations
  • The protagonist does good things because someone ought to do them, and few others in the city understand or believe this motivation
  • The city is described with the small, concrete details of daily life
  • The ending has a sense of ambiguity and melancholy

So it's got a lot in common with my favorite classic hard-boiled novels. It also includes magic, fantastic racism, LGBT issues, and just a wonderfully detailed and fascinating world.

Much as I remember from The Goblin Emperor, the author throws you in the deep end with terms, naming conventions, political structures, etc., and expects you to keep up without too much exposition. She does a fantastic job balancing the realistic use of terms with enough context clues so that you can keep up.

So much happened in this book, y'all. Read it for yourself.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book


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