THERE MAY BE SPOILERS - WORSE THERE MAY BE THINGS SAID WHICH SPOIL THE STORY - I WOULD SUGGEST READING IT FIRST AT
Blood From Stone by Alethea Kontis
He had no idea that I loved him. He barely acknowledged that I existed, a maid twice over, little more than a shadow in empty hallways
It takes a while to understand the 'maid twice over' -- I have to get to the bit where she mentions doing the work of a maid. There's a bunch of exposition about He before then. None of which gives me a clue that she's a servant in his castle.
A distant desire turns into a happy combination of murder and debauchery which ends with the girl 'marrying' the object of her affections. She kills herself during that wedding, to summon a demon, and so fulfils his desires except that they summon Death who doesn't provide a bargain just a stern warning that presumably goes unheeded.
Death is kind of dumb (he discourages the baron from killing himself or getting himself killed and so ensures a bunch more deaths? I wasn't aware Death made a profit from extra collections)
There are places where the words need a little extra work, but the less than traditional approach to a servant gradually enchanting a noble into marriage is kind of amusing but also slips away for less than entirely understandable reasons. As if Sapsorrow kept turning up at balls all summer, and waited until the prince was past intrigued and into irritated to make her next move. In some ways it's a wicked witchs guide to romance.
And then the end goes weird. I start feeling I'm missing something, that the end is going in a particular direction but I've no idea why it goes there other than AK writing that it does.
“Bring back my wife.” The baron did not implore Lord Death so much as order him to do so.
BTW this man is too inexact of phrase to be encouraged to bargain with demons.
Also, Death tells me she's made him truly love her but I've really had nothing offered to me to make me believe he loves her, as opposed to a bit of desire and having a like-minded companion in murder. That's more friendship than love.
“Yeah, let me stop you right there. See, if you do that now, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s suicide. That particular end will deliver you to a very different place. Am I right?”
And he and she murdering children will not mean they end up in the same place... how many shades of place are there that murdering children is a different one from murdering children and committing suicide?
I am... kind of confused by most of what Death says. And why Death comes when called with the use of an evil virgin woman but not an innocent virgin child.
Lord Death was halfway through before he turned back for one last remark.
“Oh. And Prelati—cut it out, already.”
“Yes, my lord.” They were the last words the magician said before they both disappeared.
Prelati goes with Death? Why? What did I miss? I really feel I've missed something, maybe this being a prequel to another story or... wait is this something to do with the guy with lots of wives he killed for opening a door? I'm not sure why I'm thinking that but...
Okay, it's a prequel to Bluebeard based on Gilles de Rais - this I did not know, and perhaps explains some of the missing pieces as bits AK either expects everyone to know or doesn't realise are missing for people who've no idea Bluebeard may have been based on a child murderer (who didn't marry a whole lot).
Yet it doesn't use either the history or the story exactly. Which would be fine except it didn't make me feel the story itself was whole.
Good words, but a shame about the missing bits.