The city of Erisín is built on bones, named for the saint of the underworld--death is no stranger in its walls. But some deaths attract more attention than others.
When a prostitute dies carrying a royal signet, Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and agent of the Crown, is called to investigate. Her search leads to desecrated tombs below the palace, and the lightless vaults of the vampiric vrykoloi deep beneath the city. She and the Crown Prince must hide their investigation from the King, or risk a war between the living and the undead.
But worse things than vampires are plotting in Erisín--a long-dead sorceress is making a bid not only for renewed life, but for the throne as well, and both Isyllt's former lover and the Prince's mistress are caught in her schemes. Soon Isyllt is torn between the living and the dead, between the man she still loves and the royal family she's sworn to defend.
As a sorcerous plague sweeps the city and demons stalk the streets, the King slips closer to madness, and Isyllt must decide who she's prepared to betray, before the city built on bones falls in blood and fire.
The soundtrack (Contains thematic spoilers)
The appendices (Covering calendars and the history of the Octagon Court)
Honor List nominee for the 2010 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.
"In a spectacular freestanding sequel to 2009's The Drowning City, Downum jumps a few years forward to find forensic necromancer Isyllt Iskaldur investigating the death of Forsythia, a young prostitute with stolen royal jewelry sewn into her clothes, in the haunted city of Erisin. As Isyllt follows the trail of death and theft to the sewers and their vampiric inhabitants, Savedra Severos, the crown prince's beautiful transgender mistress, struggles to defeat assassins and unravel plots involving her own uncle and a demonic sorceress mysteriously allied with Isyllt's mentor and former lover, the spymaster Kiril. Finely drawn characters love and betray with enthralling passion and pain, and the taverns and gardens of plague-ridden Erisin and the titular ruined palace at its center make a dark and richly detailed background for this complex and bloody tale of sorcery, madness, and intrigue. (Dec.)" - Publishers Weekly (Starred review)
"...absolutely outstanding. It's full of fantastic and original characters and a tightly coiled plot that pulls the reader along. Highly recommended both to fans of gritty secondary fantasy but also to those looking for something a little bit different, a little bit unusual, and a whole lot of awesome." - Romantic Times