Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
Publication Date: February 13th 2018 (first published February 7th 2017)
Publisher: Tor Books
Series: Amberlough Dossier #1
Blurb: The Smuggler: By day, Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for Amberlough City’s top nightclub. By night, he moves drugs and refugees under the noses of crooked cops.
The Spy: Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, but after a disastrous mission abroad, he makes a dangerous choice to protect himself…and hopefully his lover, Aristide, too.
The Dancer: Streetwise Cordelia Lehane, burlesque performer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, could be the key to Cyril’s plans–if she can be trusted.
As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.
Amberlough is a spectacular and evocative queer political spy thriller set in the 1930’s inspired Amberlough City. It is about the lengths people will go to to save the ones they love and just how much they will sacrifice for freedom.
Cyril DePaul works at the Foxhole or, more accurately, the Federal Office of Central Intelligence Services. He has been saddled with a desk job ever since a mission almost cost him his life. But, just as he is getting used to the work, the rise of a fascist government intent on tightening its hold on Gedda threatens everything.
Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Nightclub, and his show and indeed his very self is a fan favourite. He lives a decadent life, but Aristide is much more than just an emcee. He is a smuggler, both of drugs and people.
Cordelia Lehane works at the Bee as a burlesque performer and she has worked hard to get where she is. Aristide soon delivers a lucrative opportunity for her and as the city comes under siege the fire in her soul is about to become an inferno.
“Cyril’s expression settled between fury and affection. “Why do I consistently underestimate you?”
Aristide pushed his chair away from the table and stood. “A p-p-pretty face will do that. You, of all p-p-people, ought to know.”
Amberlough is one of the most stunning books I have ever had the pleasure to read. Donnelly is a wordsmith and this book comes alive. Her words conjure Amberlough City with startling clarity. You can smell Cyril’s pomade and the Alain de Nils Cordelia wears, feel the curl of smoke over your cheeks.
The three main characters are what make Amberlough. Cyril is tired and just needs a nap and yet he gets thrust into an impossible situation because he desperately wants to protect the man he loves. Aristide is an absolute gem and is the epitome of the ‘could murder me and I’d be so happy’ sentiment. Aristide and Cyril are on opposite sides of a gulf but watching them realise how deeply they feel for each other was both lovely and heartbreaking. And Cordelia. I cannot wait to see what she does next. I loved how unapologetic and so herself she is.
I am honestly astonished there hasn’t been more hype for this series. I had only discovered it myself after the paperback had been released but I’ve read it now and that’s what matters. I haven’t read Armistice yet (or Amnesty obviously) but the Amberlough Dossier is already one of my absolute favourite series.
“Among the brooks and gorse and muddy stone, he let the façade fall. His own weakness broke his heart, and frightened him.”
Amberlough is brilliant and beautiful and sexy. You will fall hard and fast for these characters and the world they inhabit. The climax will leave you both breathless and heart-sore.
I own the paperback because it is stunning but I also can’t finish my review with out commenting on absolutely wonderful the hardcover is. Look at my beautiful children 😍