Amberlough: Book 1 in the Amberlough Dossier (Amberlough Dossier, 1) Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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“James Bond by way of Oscar Wilde.” ―Holly Black
“Donnelly blends romance and tragedy, evoking gilded-age glamour and the thrill of a spy adventure, in this impressive debut. As heartbreaking as it is satisfying.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Donnelly’s striking debut brings a complex world of politics, espionage, and cabaret life to full vision. The emotional journeys of the characters as they struggle to survive in a society under siege by dark forces will strike a chord with readers as they race to the story’s conclusion.” ―Library Journal, starred review, Debut of the Month
“A tightly woven and diverse cast of spies, criminals, cabaret bohemians, and lovers struggles to save what matters to each of them against a tide of rising fascism and violence in Donnelly's debut novel, set in a vaguely 1920s milieu….A sense of inevitable loss and futility permeates this rich drama. The fascists may never be defeated but only escaped―if the characters are willing to abandon the people they love. That dilemma will haunt them, as it haunts the reader.” ―Kirkus Reviews
"Amberlough grabbed me from the first page. It is beautiful, all too real, and full of pain. Read it. It will change you." ―Hugo Award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal
"An astonishing first novel!" ―World Fantasy Award-winning author Ellen Kushner
"Sparkling with slang, full of riotous characters, and dripping with intrigue, Amberlough is a dazzling romp through a tumultuous, ravishing world." ―Robert Jackson Bennett, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and the Edgar Award
"It’s a terrific novel. Very Evelyn Waugh meets The Sandbaggers.” ―John Chu, Hugo-award winning author
"A peach softens and grows sweeter until it reaches a fragile state, lasting only about six hours, during which it's actually better than perfect--and then it goes off, it's gone, it's through. In Amberlough Donnelly takes us to a city and culture just tipping from this pluperfect moment. What a rich and melancholy book; so tragic, so gay!" ―Kai Ashante Wilson, author of Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and the Nebula & World Fantasy finalist for "The Devil in America"
“This is the book we need right now. Amberlough is a gorgeous, crucial reminder that even when the Fascists take over, people will fight back - no matter how flawed or frightened or damaged they might be, or how much they risk by doing so.” ―Sam J. Miller, finalist for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards and winner of the Shirley Jackson Award
“Amberlough offers a sharp, lush, sensual espionage Cabaret, a Weimar world of lovers, criminals and spies all floating toward the fire.” ―Max Gladstone, LAMBDA Literary Award finalist
"Intrigue and passions intertwine in Amberlough – A city on the edge of political upheaval, glittering with decadence and riddled with spies! Be careful or you too will be lost in the whirl of the kind of glamour familiar in 1930s Shanghai or Weimar-era Berlin. Donnelley's debut is powerfully seductive and wrenching." ―Fran Wilde, author of Updraft
"A glittering cabaret of a novel, with show-stopping language on every page." ―Lev AC Rosen, author of Depth
"Lust and betrayal, intrigue and treachery, feints within feints within feints―Amberlough will keep readers up late into the night. I look forward to more adventures from Lara Elena Donnelly." ―D.B. Jackson, author of the Thieftaker Chronicles
"Amberlough is the stiletto-sharp tale of an intelligence agent caught between corrupt handlers, a rising fascist regime, and his doomed passion for the notorious star of a sizzling underworld nightclub. Sexy and suspenseful, with characters who play for keeps, Donnelly's debut novel mixes secrets, spying, and outlawed love like a perfectly made cocktail... one that seduces before hitting you with an unforgettable kick." ―A.M. Dellamonica, LAMBDA Literary Award finalist for Child of a Hidden Sea
"Weirdly elegant, wholly engaging, Donnelly's Amberlough is a richly visualized and genuinely fascinating novel. I couldn't put it down." ―Josh Lanyon, author of the Adrien English Mysteries, and USA Book News Award for GLBT Fiction and the Eppie Award winner
"If you put David Bowie, China Mieville, and Shakespeare in Love into a blender, you might get something as rich and frothy as Amberlough. An intricate tale of society where nothing is as it seems, and where the political is all-too-personal." ―Cecilia Tan, author of The Struck by Lightning series
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765383810
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765383815
- Product Dimensions : 5.93 x 1.27 x 8.51 inches
- Publisher : Tor Books (February 7, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Probably because I love the era so much, I persisted, and it did begin to pay off after that rocky beginning. I still had moments when I wasn't sure what was being discussed, but I found that I had gained the context through which I could figure it out. If that sounds like a lot of work... well it might be for some, though in the end, I didn't feel as if it was because I was enjoying the story by then, and the characters who had grown on me as I tried to sort out who they were and what they were up to.
At the bottom it's a love story between two very different men who sometimes don't even seem to like each other very much, set in an increasingly repressive social order in which a Nazi-like government -- a group called "Ospies," short for One State Party -- is quickly seizing power through rigged elections and violence. It's also the story of a young woman who is making her way through the underside of this society, growing increasingly angry and willing to do whatever she needs to do to monkey-wrench the Ospies' plans. They're all just people, fallible, sometimes cruel or foolish, but even when you don't like them much, you care about what happens to them.
In spite of a bit of unevenness in the narrative, the aforementioned info dumps, and a point about two-thirds of the way through where it drags a bit, it's still a compelling read if you give it a chance. But as it's the first book of a trilogy, you will find things unresolved at the end. I plan to pick up the second volume as soon as it's available, so color me sold on the universe and the characters.
Each and every character has amazing depth and complexity. You end up rooting for people who, for all intents and purposes, aren't terribly good people. But that's the magic that 'Amberlough' has! Things are never black and white, and this book is all shades of gray.
The environments are vibrant and striking. You can smell the cigarette smoke wafting through the cabaret, while you can hear the click of heels on concrete floors. You can smell the gin on the breath of the dancer that's crept up behind you, and is whispering secrets best saved for behind closed doors.
This novel will not leave you disappointed. There are so many points in the story where my stomach dropped, and so many others where I felt the euphoria that only a trip to the Bumble Bee Cabaret can bring. So grab your briefcase, meet your contacts, and try not to arouse suspicion. There's too much at stake here. A must-read for any fan of the spy genre
If you need me, I'll be looking into buying property in Amberlough City.
Amberlough is a tryst between John le Carre's grey-coated spies and Cabaret's end-of-an-era seedy delights: the whole city's going to have one drink too many, because it doesn't want to go to sleep and face the jackboots tomorrow. Read this book if you love smugglers, strippers, spies and smoky bourbon in a city like Weimar Berlin, everyone desperately passionate and horribly hungover, all of them trying to keep their footing in a world that's changing too fast.
Cyril dePaul is a spy who's not just compromised but well and fully leveraged, thanks: caught between his duty to his masters in Amberlough, his affair with glamorous smuggler Aristide, and other, darker allegiances. Cyril's a fascinating dude, because he's caught right where every one of us would be if we realized fascism was coming - trying to protect his people, trying to be better than he is, tortured by the fear that he's giving his soul away to save his comforts, certain that he'll be destroyed in an instant if he makes one error. Cyril's lover Aristide's coworker at the Bumble Bee Cabaret - and maybe the key to Cyril's salvation - is Cordelia Lehane, a born-to-nothing dancer and drugrunner who wants more than she's got and knows how to use people to get it. As the cold creeps in, Aristide, Cyril, and Cordelia have to turn to - and against - each other to survive in the new regime.
Amberlough is a lush, lovely crawl through the high society parties, dockside dens and smoky headquarters of a city as real as yours - Donnelly's prose is (to steal from the jacket copy) ravishing. I never knew there were so many perfectly specific words for luxury! And under the glitz there's a steel bar of terror, a lever pushing everyone to the edge - because some people see Amberlough's effusive corrupt decadent liveliness as rot, and they won't stop cutting until the city and the nation are theirs.
Sit at the dark end of the bar, tip the tuxedoed woman who mixes your cocktail, and wait for your contact to pass you a brown envelope with the names of the friends you're going to betray tomorrow. Consider: which people on that list can you afford to save? And what's it going to cost you?
Read this book, look up, and think about what you'd do if you were Cyril or Cordelia. Pray you don't have to find out.
Top reviews from other countries
Okay breath! Just so this novel was amazing I started it on Tuesday and finished it this morning. I have been waiting for this book for months ever since I heard it being called a "spy thriller as a double agent tries to protect his smuggler lover..." I was gone because that description just sounds amazing.
And I am happy to say this novel did not disappoint. Actually, I loved it more than I ever anticipated, it's also so relevant to our time at the moment, scarily so.
I love reading characters who are not wholly "good" and Cyril and Ari are not "good" characters at all really. They just think about themselves and each other. But it is them worrying about each other and the hints that we get throughout the story of how much they care and love each other, even if they cannot tell the other because it would be constrained as a weakness that makes me adore these two characters and their struggle.
"He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept through the night. No, that was a lie. it had been months ago, in early spring, wrapped in moire silk while a rainstorm peppered the windows of Ari's flat."
I could not put this book down and I am desperately waiting for a sequel because of that ending!
Also, coverLOVE its truly stunning isn't it?