Bone and Jewel Creatures
by Elizabeth Bear
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596062740
Date: 31 March 2010 List Price $20.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Once Bijou's apprentice, the wizard Brazen finds technology fascinating and uses it to create his artificial automatons. He worries about her as age takes a heavy toll. Having reached almost the century mark, she refuses to rest and take things easy. She relies only on her artificial creatures.
Brazen, brings her an injured child with a deformed hand now riddled with an infection. Bijou cannot save the hand, but she can cure the child. Bijou discovers the source of the infection came from a venomous puss moth. She suspects her old enemy and former lover, Kaulas the Necromancer. He also sired Brazen.
The child, a wild creature without the power of speech, triggers Bijou's protective instincts. Once harbored by jackals, the child slowly succumbs to the care and food Bijou lavishes on her. She explores Bijou's workshop and finds Bijou's creatures fascinating.
A plague of diseased animals and humans spreads throughout the city of Messaline. Kaulas, nearing the end of his life, seeks to prolong it as long as he can and to eliminate those he considers rivals and enemies. He causes pestilence among humans and animals, taunting Bijou with vague signs and clues.
Brazen might almost be classed in steampunk, but Bijou fits the more traditional fantasy wizard type with a few twists. Bear portrays the warmth between Brazen and Bijou, between her, the child, and Bijou's creatures, and the child with her jackal family. The narrative flows well and the relationships and threats will hold readers interest.