No, not me, I aten’t dead. I recently read Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone has won a reader in me. I’m a fan of authors who write about gods creatively, as in N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. In some ways, Three Parts Dead is reminiscent of Jemisin’s book.
Anyway, on with the good stuff. The world building is solid, well crafted, and not bogged down in a million bits of minutiae. The imagery invoked is vivid, and there’s enough of a tease throughout the book that you find yourself wishing to find out more about this world.
The protagonists are two women, Tara Abernathy and Elayne Kevarian. Happily, one of them is black, so Mr. Gladstone gets a double shout out for diversity in characters. Personally, I found Ms. Kevarian to be the more intriguing character, but I enjoyed Tara Abernathy very much as well. They find themselves on the way to the city of Alt Coloumb, to investigate a deicide. The gods themselves are interesting and well described, and there’s a bit of everything going on in the city, what with priests, gargoyles, a vampire or three, craft practitioners, a skeevy and power-deranged professor, a splashy, gory murder and much more. I was captivated by the way that Tara conducts research into the deicide, being one of those strange people who *loves* research.
There’s incisive commentary on religion, faith, society, and relationships. And more! There’s one delicious scene which addresses the issue of consent, and most neatly, too. That takes place between a vampire and a cop (so to speak) in a hospital, and it doesn’t go the way you might think with that short description.
Mr. Gladstone also uses the word woman to describe women, not the awful, infantilizing girl so many authors use, which grates my last nerve.* He also uses ‘she/her’ as the default placeholder pronoun, which you don’t see often, and I’ve come to appreciate that the rare times it happens.
Altogether, a highly entertaining, thought provoking, and captivating read. Highly recommended.
*(Honestly, do they not think? They’ll use “she was a blah blah blah girl of twenty five”, but you never read “he was a blah blah blah boy of twenty five”. Bleargh.)