A prequel story set between The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns. Dragons, creepy magic, cooking (!).
Once each year, the House of Hawthorn tests the Houseless: for those chosen, success means the difference between a safe life and the devastation of the streets. However, for Thuan and his friend Kim Cuc, — dragons in human shapes and envoys from the dying underwater kingdom of the Seine — the stakes are entirely different. Charged with infiltrating a House that keeps encroaching on the Seine, if they are caught, they face a painful death.
Worse, mysterious children of thorns stalk the candidates through Hawthorn’s corridors. Will Thuan and Kim Cuc survive and succeed?
In this story we follow Thuan and his friend as they attempt to infiltrate one of the Houses of the Fallen in an alternate reality Paris. During the standard examination for entry into the House (as servants), something unusual goes wrong and everyone has to evacuate a wing of the house.
From what I remember, this story has a minor spoiler for House of Shattered Wings, but definitely doesn't require reading the second novel, House of Binding Thorns (I haven't yet). That said, my reading of the story was influenced by my prior knowledge of the world building and I suspect it wouldn't stand alone as a story as well as it does part of a whole. I believe it was intended to promote interest in House of Binding Thorns, which it does reasonably well. I am definitely interested in reading the sequel now that I've been reminded of the world again (if only I wasn't already so far behind on my reading...).
I recommend Children of Thorns, Children of Water to people who enjoyed House of Shattered Wings and want a taste of what's to come (I assume) in the sequel.
4 / 5 stars
First published: April 2017, Gollancz
Series: Dominon of the fallen 1.5 (as in, falling between House of Shattered Wings and House of Binding Thorns)
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (but apparently it was offered as a pre-order reward for House of Binding Thorns)