432 pages

Published Feb. 6, 2024 by Del Rey.

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4 stars (4 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)

Quite liked it

3 stars

A fantasy murder mystery served with a dollop of Pacific Rim, garnished with a hint of The Goblin Emperor, and a tiny sprig of romance. It was nicely written with interesting world-building and enjoyable characters; Ana, in particular, was a delight. The murder plot and its somewhat deflated resolution kept this at a 3-star rating for me. Though the opportunity is rarely afforded in fantasy whodunits, I like to follow along and solve crimes too! While it didn't guarantee a sequel a place on my to-read list, I might try more from this author.

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

Very enjoyable fantasy-mystery

5 stars

I enjoyed a lot this classic and convoluted mystery, set in a magical empire that has enough weirdness to grab you from the start. Many authors try a bit too hard to be light or funny, it feels effortless here. All in all, a very enjoyable book.

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.

avatar for joachim

rated it

4 stars