432 pages

Published Feb. 6, 2024 by Del Rey.

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5 stars (5 reviews)

An eccentric detective and her long-suffering assistant untangle a web of magic, deceit, and murder in this sparkling fantasy reimagining of the classic crime novel—from the bestselling author of The Founders Trilogy.

In Daretana’s greatest mansion, a high Imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree spontaneously erupted from his body. Even here at the Empire’s borders, where contagions abound and the blood of the Leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death both terrifying and impossible.

Assigned to investigate is Ana Dolabra, a detective whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities. Rumor has it that she wears a blindfold at all times—and that she can solve impossible cases without even stepping outside the walls of her home.

At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol. Din is an engraver, magically altered in ways that make him the perfect aide to Ana’s brilliance.

Din …

1 edition

reviewed The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett (Shadow of the Leviathan, #1)

Another amazing world from the author of Foundaryside

5 stars

Told from the perspective of a rather stick-in-the-mud assistant investigator to a genius detective who has been banished to the hinterlands for unspecified faux pas against powerful people of the Empire, we follow as their investigation goes from strange to dangerous as it threatens powerful people and the very walls the Empire is founded on.

The primary conceit for the universe he creates this time is that genetic alterations are but a flask of chemicals away and the whole Empire is largely run by various highly modified individuals. The narrator has just been given his first modification, making him an engraver, which means he has perfect memory of anything he views or hears or smells. He is the eyes and ears for the investigator, relaying the physical clues to her from which she deduces the rest.

Strongly recommended read! Really well plotted, great characters and a fascinating world for them …

reviewed The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett (Shadow of the Leviathan, #1)

Loved It

5 stars

Had a great time with this. I haven’t had this much fun in a fantasy setting since the Shades of Magic books by V.E. Schwab and the Witch King by Martha Wells.

The mystery aspects were well done - all of the pieces were available and figuring out broad strokes was even within my own grasp. It was great fun to see the internal logic spelled out and add to the world building.

reviewed The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett (Shadow of the Leviathan, #1)

The Tainted Cup

5 stars

The Tainted Cup is very much a fantasy Holmes novel, where a labyrinthine mystery is being solved by an almost supernaturally skilled investigator and their lovable but hapless assistant, through whose viewpoint the story is being presented.

The setting is delightfully weird, much more like Divine Cities than Founders, with elements of existential/apocalyptic threat and imperialism.

I'm looking forward to more in this universe.

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rated it

5 stars