Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.
When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.
Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon- haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .
It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.
I’d like to thank the lovely people at Titan Books for sending me a copy of this book and inviting me to take part in the blog tour! Please see do check out everyone else taking part in this tour! My review is below and also an excerpt from the book so you can get a taste of what it’s like!
Going into this book, I didn’t have a clue what to expect and I did feel a little hesitant as I struggle with science fiction books. They are hit and miss with me, I either like them or I hate them. With this one, it surprised me so much because I actually ended up really loving it! I devoured it so quickly and I was disappointed when I reached the ending. I really hope there is a sequel because I am definitely not finished with this world and these characters!
Honestly this book was on my mind 24/7. As soon as I had to put it down to start work, while I was working all I could think about was being on my break and getting to read some more of this book. It just dug its claws into me and refused to let me go! It was so easy to read, it just had a way of capturing your attention, it was irresistible.
The plot was absolutely fascinating and very creepy at times! It was impossible for me to predict what was going to happen next, it just kept surprising me. There was crazy stuff happening nearly every page, demons and hallucinations galore! It felt like I was being spun in all these different directions trying to figure out what was happening to/with Winter, it was insane! I was eagerly turning the pages wanting more and more. I loved how Winter has just been living in a web of lies and deceit and now he is slowly unravelling it. Pretty much everything he thought he knew was a lie, even his marriage and his job. That would really mess me up but he actually did a pretty good job or holding it together.
I loved Karina, she was a very mysterious character but extremely badass. She got Winter out of a lot of sticky situations and saved his butt numerous times. I loved seeing a powerful female character saving the male character.
The only thing I felt disappointed with was that I wasn’t able to form an emotional connection with the main character. While I did like his character, I didn’t feel anything else for him and wasn’t really rooting for him. His personality fell flat for me and it felt like we were only given the basics when it came to the characters. There’s some teasing here and there about Karina’s past but I still feel like I don’t really know much about her and I really want to! I’d have liked for the author to have dug a little further and unearthed some more characteristics and bonds between each of the characters. It just felt like they weren’t quite there yet and hopefully that is something the author will work on.
The ending was crazy, I definitely approved of that plot twist! I had no idea that was coming and it felt like something clicked in my brain. Everything just fell into place and came together all at once, it was so insane and so good! I loved the magic, it was really well incorporated into the story! The author did a fantastic job with that ending and left me with my mouth hanging open in shock. This was a very exciting read and I loved it so much!
Winter shinned over the padlocked gates of Matilda Park. Taking care to avoid the spear-tipped railings he dropped to the ground, landing in an autumnal mulch of leaves.
The fog was thicker now. It filled the park, great grey banks of the stuff, massing between the bony October branches of the trees. London’s streetlamps looked like ghost lights in the distance, or ships at sea. Winter began walking, rain-slick leaves clinging to his shoes.
He soon found the statue. It was another of Blake’s angels. This one had granite wings, sweeping forward in the moonlight. They guarded another figure, a girl. She wore the crown of a queen. There was an inscription chiselled on the base of the statue and rainwater ran between the words. ‘And I wept both night and day, And he wiped my tears away; And I wept both day and night, And hid from him my heart’s delight.’
Winter plunged his fist into the earth. His fingers rooted in the wet soil. They found a metal spike and pulled it free. It looked like a long nail. The centre band was knurled, the rest of it smooth steel. Winter wiped the dirt from the object and, with an effort, unscrewed the cap. Then he removed the lean winder that nestled inside the spike, pulling it carefully past the O-ring seal that was still tacky with glue.
There was a message wrapped around the winder. Malcolm’s writing. The hollow spike also contained a sheaf of money – big notes – and a tiny sliver of microdot film, along with a business card. Winter pocketed them all and lobbed the dead-drop spike into a nearby bush. It was then that he saw her.
Surely it was Joyce. She stood ten yards away from him, dressed in a coat he was sure he had once bought her – an anniversary present, maybe, or something for Christmas. She had Joyce’s stance, the familiar chocolatedot mole beneath the lower lip and a fringe of black hair that skirted her eyes, just as Joyce’s did.
She was looking directly at him, her expression inscrutable. The fog wreathed her. It had to be Joyce. But why was she here? It was impossible. He began to walk towards her, his eyes blinking through the condensation in the air.
The woman’s head tilted as he approached, as if only just aware of him. The shadows left her face. And they left nothing behind. There were no features. Nothing but blankness, a void of skin where the face of his wife had been.
And then the head tilted again, retrieving the shadows. A new face. It was almost Joyce.
The woman regarded him. Still silent, still only half conceding his presence, she casually turned her back. Placing her hands into the pockets of her coat – a coat he had never seen before – she began to walk into the fog as if dismissing this whole wordless encounter.
Winter’s memory flashed to the night before. He recalled the man he had mistaken for Hatherly. He strode after the woman. He wanted an answer. He caught up with her. He grasped her arm.
It was as if he had seized live voltage. A blast of white light filled his vision.
Winter opened his eyes. He was alone in Matilda Park. There was a numbness in his hand, like an echo of some greater pain. Was it the arm he had been stabbed in? He blinked, uncertain. It felt as though a fragment of memory had just been snatched from him.
Had there been another person standing there just now? Someone he knew?
The fog had cleared, surprisingly quickly. He looked through the trees, past the wrought-iron Victorian railings to the city beyond. Dawn was on its way.