Book Review: THE GRIEF OF STONES by Katherine Addison

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: third book



Book cover for THE GRIEF OF STONES: title in white on black with green and white geometric decorations around it

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses. The love of his friends will lead him out again.

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE GRIEF OF STONES is another great entry to this world, a mystery about one man seeking justice (and having to find a few legal loopholes and illegal actions to do so.)

One of the things I enjoy about this series, and noticed particularly reading all three books back to back this week, is that the books are not structured as you’d really expect for either fantasy or mystery novels. There are mysteries solved very early on that then lead on (sometimes tangentially) to the larger mystery (which comes in later). There are mini-mysteries that aren’t always tied to the main ones.

This meant, for me at least, that the plot/mystery wasn’t the thing driving the book. There is a plot, but when it doesn’t hit a lot of the beats you expect for its genre (the mystery side in particular), it ends up taking second place to the characters. This is a book that is about Celehar trying to come to terms with the fact he has friends (he keeps thinking he’s imposing and/or panicking about his/their feelings) and how to trust this new reality.

Plus he has an apprentice and I really enjoyed watching him and Tomasaran find their equilibrium as teacher/pupil (which then accelerates as events later in the book occur.) Celehar is the sort of mentor you’d want – not patronising, but also aware of skill set gaps and looking to fill those in. He’s also a hand-on teacher (“come solve this murder with me, and I promise it’s not usually this bad.”)

Like with the ghouls in THE WITNESS FOR THE DEAD, there is more supernatural/speculative elements in this book (compared to the almost no-magic of THE GOBLIN EMPEROR.) As well as the witnessing/listening to the dead, there is a very terrifying spirit who is so powerful. That was a really tense section of the book! And it had consequences that began to be explored and look very interesting to follow in future instalment(s).

I believe there is at least one more book to come (yay!) about Celehar. The ending certainly implies another adventure as there is a massive hint that there is a job the Archprelate wants him to do. Plus he needs time to heal from some of his adventures, particularly the emotional side of it.

Read my reviews of other books by Katherine Addison:

The Goblin Emperor (this series):



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