Category: free fiction

Xuya novelette “Memorials” reprinted in Apex Magazine


Xuya novelette “Memorials” reprinted in Apex Magazine

My novelette “Memorials”, originally published in Asimov’s,  has been reprinted in Apex Magazine‘s June 2016 issue, alongside fiction by Mary Pletsch, Douglas F. Warrick, and a novel excerpt from the awesome E. Catherine Tobler.

Virtual realities, powerful aunties, and trafficking in the dead. Also, three-colour chè. Because.


Cam finds Pham Thi Thanh Ha in her house, as she expected. By now, she doesn’t question the aunts’ knowledge or how they came by it. She does what she’s told to, an obedient daughter beholden to her elders, never raising a fuss or complaining– the shining example of filial piety extolled in the tales her girlfriend Thuy so painstakingly reconstitutes in her spare hours.

You can read it here.

“Lullaby for a Lost World now up at”


“Lullaby for a Lost World now up at”

My dark fantasy short story “Lullaby for a Lost World” is now up at

This is why you should never, ever suggest I write stories with unicorns.

They bury you at the bottom of the gardens–what’s left of you, pathetic and small and twisted so out of shape it hardly seems human anymore. The river, dark and oily, licks at the ruin of your flesh–at your broken bones–and sings you to sleep, in a soft, gentle language like a mother’s lullabies; whispering of rest and forgiveness; of a place where it is forever light, forever safe.

You do not rest. You cannot forgive. You are not safe– you never were.

Read for free at

Free stories: In Morningstar’s Shadow


Free stories: In Morningstar’s Shadow

I originally made In Morningstar’s Shadow available as a reward for people who had preordered The House of Shattered Wings (and shifted quite a few copies, thanks to everyone who took advantage of that!).

Since the book has been out for a while (a month which feels like a lifetime, wow), I figured I would make it available for free, as a sampler of what you can get if you buy the novel.

You can either download files below, or go to most online retailers and get it for free. Please note that I’ve done my best to encourage Amazon to price-match, but I can’t promise that all the countries followed suit: it’s free for sure in the US and UK, or you can download the MOBI file directly below if you can’t find it for free in your part of the world.

Download Now: EPUB | MOBI.
Download from retailers:

Download now.

Or read online here.

(and if you’ve read the novel and want more short fiction set in the same universe, why not check out Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship, the adventure/courtship story featuring Emmanuelle and Selene?)

The House of Shattered Wings on BBC, and free ebook offer extension!


So… many many thanks to everyone who’s signal boosting The House of Shattered Wings: it’s pretty amazing to see the book in people’s hands!

I wanted to give people a heads-up that I recorded for the BBC World Service: it’s a roundtable on magic chaired by Tim Marlow and featuring Scott Penrose (head of the Magic Circle in the UK), Kevin O’Regan (experimental psychologist) and me as the fantasy novelist :). You can listen to it here, or it’ll be broadcast tomorrow at 8:00 GMT in the UK.

Also, because it’s been amazing, and because I put it late, I’m extending the preorder offer for another two weeks: get back to me with a picture of the book/your ebook reader with the book on it/the audiobook before September 8th, 23:59 GMT +1, and you can get a FREE copy of In Morningstar’s Shadow, an exclusive ebook of short vignettes that illuminates corners of the world and characters of the novel. For more info on the ebook see here.
ETA: this is for either the US or UK edition.

The caveat is that this is basically run solely by me and that I’m running a bit ragged: I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can–if I don’t, I beg for your patience.

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Proof of purchase (photo or screen capture of receipt required, 2MB maximum)


    (if you’re seeing this on LJ or DW, please go to the original post to send the form: the captcha isn’t working in crossposts).

    Still undecided? You can sample a bit before making up your mind.
    Read Chapter One!
    Read excerpt from Chapter Three!
    Read excerpt from Chapter Four!

    Buy Now

    Coming up this week: Worldcon, a roundup of stuff I’ve been doing on the web, and some bonus House of Shattered Wings art!

    Pre-order special offer!


    Pre-order special offer!

    So… with apologies for the delay (I meant to do this earlier, and then I got a little, er, overwhelmed with stuff). I know this is a bit last minute, but still…

    Pre-orders for books are a bit like release week for movies: they’re important for how a book performs and therefore pretty important for the author. On the other hand, I’m well aware of how much trust you put in me as a writer, when you order a book a long time before you actually get *anything* in your hands. Accordingly, I would like to offer a little incentive…

    If you preordered or preorder The House of Shattered Wings in any form (ebook or physical), you’ll get a free, exclusive ebook: a series of vignettes set in the world of The House of Shattered Wings, hopefully to whet your appetite. They start during the Great Houses War in 1917, and go up to twenty years before the start of the book; a condensed prequel with a glimpse at characters beyond the scope of the book.

    Here’s a little teaser of each section:

    1. The Face of Heaven (House Silverspires, Ile de la Cité 1917, during the Great Houses War)
      If one was dedicated, and silent, and watchful, one could learn to see angels again.
    2. Paid Debts (Houseless areas near Galeries Lafayette, 1925)
      Imadan wasn’t a fool, ordinarily. He knew the rules and the strictures of post-war Paris; he knew all the dangers that should be avoided.
    3. What has to be done (House Silverspires, Ile de la Cité, 1958)
      Emmanuelle woke up, still woozy with sleep; and then felt it.

    (the actual ebook wouldn’t have come into fruition without Tade Thompson and Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein, who provided cover art and lettering for said cover art in record speed–I know everyone is very busy and am very thankful. Any issues with actual formatting, I’m afraid, are solely at my door…).

    So… how do you get this?

    It depends. In the UK/Commonwealth, Gollancz is very kindly running this: see below for details. If you preordered/preorder the UK ebook or the physical book (aka “the one with the multicoloured wings”), then follow the instructions there.
    ETA: for accessibility reasons, the address is gollanczgeeks followed by the @, followed by “”.

    If you ordered the US edition (US edition only please–the one with the burning feathers :p), then fill in the contact form below and I’ll email you EPUB/MOBI/PDF versions of the ebook. Because I’m at Worldcon anyway, I’m going to let this run on the same timescale as the Gollancz promotion (the deadline is 11:59pm GMT on August 19th), so you can actually order the US edition on release day or shortly after and you’ll still get the ebook.

    ETA: if you have the actual book (which is either happening because you got an early UK edition at, say, Fantasy in the Court or Nine Worlds or some booksellers, or because it’s August 18th/19th in the US, or some other reason I’m not privy to :)), email me a picture of the book as your proof of purchase.

    The caveat is that this last bit is basically run solely by me and that I’m running a bit ragged: I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can–if I don’t, I beg for your patience (also, I literally cobbled this form together this morning, so I hope it works).

    (contact form closed as offer has expired)

    Still undecided? You can sample a bit before making up your mind.
    Read Chapter One!
    Read excerpt from Chapter Three!
    Read excerpt from Chapter Four!

    Buy Now

    Giveaway: two hardcover copies of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS


    Giveaway: two hardcover copies of THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS

    So… the copies of The House of Shattered Wings hardcover have hit writer central. Isn’t it the prettiest?

    I’ve got two to give away–you could get your hands on this ahead of release! (it’d of course be awesome if you could subsequently leave a review at amazon/goodreads/etc., but it’s not compulsory)

    Want one? Just enter below. It’s a simpler giveaway than the previous one hopefully! It’s open anywhere in the world, I’ll sign and ship these ASAP.
    (it’s also not compulsory to subscribe to the mailing list to enter. It’s just that I wanted to give an advantage to people who already on it)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Still undecided? In addition to all the buzz, it recently got a Publishers Weekly starred review: “…a fantastical spy thriller that reads like a hybrid of le Carré and Milton, all tinged with the melancholy of golden ages lost.” I’m sure you want to read that, right?

    Chapter one of The House of Shattered Wings online


    Just a quick heads-up that I put chapter one of my upcoming Gollancz/Roc release The House of Shattered Wings online for your reading pleasure 🙂

    It is almost pleasant, at first, to be Falling.

    The harsh, unwavering light of the City recedes, leaving you in shadow, leaving only memories of relief, of a blessed coolness seizing your limbs. Nothing has turned yet into longing, into bitterness, into the cold that will never cease, not even in the heat of summer.

    Read more here!

    Giveaway: Advance Review Copies of House of Shattered Wings


    Giveaway: Advance Review Copies of House of Shattered Wings

    As you might have gathered if you follow my twitter or FB, the Advance Review Copies of the Roc edition of The House of Shattered Wings have landed at headquarters (aka my office, increasingly invaded by the snakelet’s toy cars, plush toys and board books).

    Want an ARC of your very own? A chance to immerse yourself in a devastated, decadent Paris with fallen angels, alchemists and Vietnamese immortals?

    You’re in the right place! All you have to do is enter below (disclaimer: this is my first time using Rafflecopter. I hope this works out). This is open to anyone regardless of where you live. This is open until Monday June 1st–I’ll announce winners Tuesday, but possibly I will mail the prizes when I get home from the Nebulas. I’ll sign and personalise the ARCs.
    (if you’ve already subscribed to my mailing list, just click the button, give me the address you’re subscribed with, and I’ll count that as +1 point for you)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    (Also, if you’re curious about where I’d find shelter in devastated Paris: Notre-Dame, any day. Because a. it’s on an island, and b. consecrated ground, which always comes in handy! (you don’t have to be as detailed in your answer or even to justify it. It’s just a way of having a “fun” option to the giveaway. Though I do reserve the right to post some of the best ones 🙂 )

    More info about the book (out August 20th from Gollancz in the UK/Commonwealth, and August 18th from Roc in the US):

    A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.

    Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.

    House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

    Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

    Praise for the novel:

    THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a Gothic masterpiece of supernatural intrigues, loves and betrayals in a ruined and decadent future Paris — wildly imaginative and completely convincing, this novel will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.

    Tim Powers, author of The Anubis Gates


    If the image of Lucifer sitting on a throne in the ruins of Notre-Dame strikes you as awesome, then this is the book for you.

    Marie Brennan, author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent series


    Darkly entertaining. de Bodard makes Fallen Angels entirely her own in this post-apocalyptic Paris near the turn of the century. The personal politics of necessity blend and clash with the politics of the powerful as people—mortal and immortal—attempt to survive.

    Michelle Sagara, author of the Chronicles of Elantra

    “The Lonely Heart” in Lightspeed Magazine


    A belated heads-up, because it’s been one of those weeks…

    My short story “The Lonely Heart” has been reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine. You can find it here.

    A heads-up that it’s a very dark story (it’s a retelling of “The Painted Skin” in Pu Songling’s Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio), and it gets very graphic (as in “explicit violence and gore, and please don’t blame me if you get nightmares” :p). I also answer questions here.

    You can buy the entire issue at the Lightspeed Magazine website, too–please consider doing so? Magazines like Lightspeed need subscribers and issue buyers if they’re to make money.


    It was towards mid-afternoon that Chen became aware of the girl. She stood before Chen’s stall, watching the fake-jade effigies of the Buddha and the coloured incense sticks, her eyes wide in the sunlight — she was no more than thirteen or fourteen, with the gangly unease of that age. To her left, children shrieked as they passed the Bridge of Impossibility, holding each other’s hands, and went into the temple complex.

    The girl’s hand reached towards a small statue of a demon, touched it — setting off a coloured lightstrobe which illuminated the statue from within.

    Normally, Chen should have snatched the statue away, and pointed out to her, in a firm voice, that you didn’t touch the wares unless you paid. But the girl was so young: skeletally thin, her skin taut over high cheekbones, her eyes wide with fear.

    Awards consideration post


    Awards consideration post

    2014 was a busy year, but mostly because I spent it taking care of the infant (and running after him in the last quarter of 2014)!

    It’s very appropriate that out of all the stuff I published in 2014, my favourite is “The Breath of War”, my science fantasy story with spaceships, stone people and pregnancy. It was, hum, heavily inspired by September 2013 experiences, although of course I didn’t give birth in the middle of a space war :p
    (if you read this blog, you’ll already know my position on the presence of women and positive depictions of pregnancies in fiction, so I won’t belabour it here–but it is part of why I’m putting this particular story forward).
    It was on Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List for 2014, and you can read it here at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, where it was first published; there are also ebook versions [EPUB|MOBI|PDF|RTF]. And an audio version read by Tina Connolly if audio’s more your thing!

    And now onto other people’s fiction: I’ll direct you to my Book Smugglers Smugglivius post for the fiction I loved this year, but here are a few additional things I forgot.

    Ahead of everything (which is a lot this year), I’ll just put in a strong recommendation for Xia Jia? She’s been publishing a lot of good fiction (an excellent novelette in Clarkesworld about the festivals of the future, and another one in Upgraded on old age and technology), and I think it’s a shame she’s not getting the recognition she deserves in the West. Here’s an interview with her done by Ken Liu, too.

    From my Smugglivius post:
    -Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad. A series of wonderfully light and funny stories, from the troubles of getting a boyfriend when you’re a pontianak (Malaysian vampire), to the changes wrought on a family by generations of immigration.

    (plenty more behind the cut)
    Continue reading →