Book Review: L’Esprit de L’Escalier, by Catherynne M. Valente

A promise of a Hugo-award finalist retelling of one of my favourite greek myth caught my interest for a quick read.

What to Expect

Expect a Gothic novelette, full of brooding atmosphere. The ancient Greek gods are the rock stars (literally) of the modern world, and we get to explore what might have been were Orpheus successful in rescuing his wife from the underworld.

What I liked

Brilliant prose, heavy on dark and melancholic Gothic vibes.

What to be aware of

It’s a very short read, that still feels too long. Don’t expect anything to happen, really. Valente explores the basic question of what’s it like living with a zombie for the majority of the story.

And while she added a layer of modernity in Eurydice’s ‘I didn’t ask to be rescued’ attitude, I felt it was unfair to the original myth, depicting Orpheus as self-obsessed narcissus.

Felix’s Review

Felix says that’s what you get when you mess with dead things without understanding. That was neither the way address the shade of Eurydice, nor the way to treat her once in the world. Here, have his card – he’ll show you how to treat your dead relatives much more efficiently.


Read this for the prose, the modern take on Gothic atmosphere.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.

Come meet Felix and his world on the free short stories and novels!

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