The true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.
It’s 1965 and Christopher Winter is trying to carve a new life, a new identity, beyond his days in British Intelligence. Recruited by London’s gangland he now finds himself on the wrong side of the law – and about to discover that the secret service has a way of claiming back its own. Who is the fatally alluring succubus working honeytraps for foreign paymasters? What is the true secret of the Shadowless, a fabled criminal cabal deadlier than the Mafia? And why do both parties covet long- buried caskets said to hold the hearts of kings? Winter must confront the buried knowledge of his own past to survive – but is he ready to embrace the magic that created the darkness waiting there?
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.
After reading The War in the Dark, I was desperately hoping the author would write a sequel because it was one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read! So when The Spider Dance was announced I was so excited and I thought it was even better than The War in the Dark!
I love when authors can mix completely different genres together to create an awe-inspiring story and Nick Setchfield definitely has a talent for that. This is an awesome mix of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, thriller… probably plenty more thrown in there as well. It had hooked me from the start; it was so intense and incredibly awesome.
Since it’s the second book in the series I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but in the first book we saw Christopher banish his past self to Hell and deny the magic he used to wield so confidently; wanting to be better and live a life he has chosen for himself. There’s some really great soul-searching in The Spider Dance as Christopher tries to carve out his own path and he has to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t a good guy.
Christopher also crosses paths with some characters who knew Tobias Hart and through these characters, we were given a more in-depth look at how cruel he used to be and how much has changed since Tobias died and was remade as Christoper Winter. He finds himself in some tricky situations and even though Tobias died, the magic still lives on in Christoper and he has to decide whether he truly wants to leave the dark magic behind or if he wants to tap into it and use it for good instead.
Something I said in my review of The War in the Dark was that I struggled to form an emotional connection with Christopher and that I wasn’t really rooting for him. I said The War in the Dark wasn’t quite there yet with the characters and hopefully it was something the author would work on for the second book. I can happily say this time round I was fully rooting for Christopher and was excited to see him rediscover himself. I really hope there’s a third book as I still think Christopher has so much left to share and I am intrigued to see where he goes next.
‘I’m sorry, sir.’ The apology had a surly edge. There was no smile.
Winter said nothing, waiting for him to step aside. After a moment the man did so and headed down the corridor that led to the buffet room. Winter watched him walk away, evaluating his physique, assessing the probability of concealed weapons. State security, no doubt, keeping tabs on the whole honeytrap operation. Not entirely unexpected – and Winter had no reason to suspect his cover had been compromised – but it was another variable to factor in.
He climbed the stairs, passing sombre portraits of Hungarian monarchs, peering down from dingy, cream- painted walls. There were cracks in the plaster, fine as veins. Like most of Pest this hotel’s glory had begun to rot.
He turned into the third floor. The door to room 304 was firmly closed. Winter heard laughter from inside. He hovered for a moment, nodding blandly to a passing maid, then unlocked the door to his own room. A snap of the light switch illuminated the modest but aspirational furnishings. A crisply made bed, a square armchair, an antique table.
He sat on the edge of the bed and quietly unbuckled his watch strap. His head felt heavy on his shoulders. Over the years he had learnt to hate rooms like this. Something about their anonymity, their neat emptiness, always got to him, made him feel adrift. Tonight it was worse. Tonight he couldn’t even feel that familiar numb ache for home, because home was now a room in Battersea with sour milk in the fridge.
He indulged a smile as he wound his watch. This had to be an improvement on that, at least.
Waiting there, hunched in his suit, Winter became aware of a steady, rhythmic vibration thudding through the wall. It was accompanied by a quickening squeal of bedsprings. He sighed, turning the watch in his hand, seeing the seconds tick from every angle. It was moments like this when surveillance felt more like voyeurism.
The pace of the thrusts increased, the headboard smacking the wall in the room next door. He could hear the interplay of grunts and moans, the pair of them struggling to synchronise as they made love. Made love? No, it sounded more ragged, more urgent than that, a purely physical act, torn from the moment. Winter imagined the softly whirring camera behind the mirror or the grille, recording every sweat-slick detail while the men from the state looked on. It was reassuring to know there were even seedier ways to serve your country.
And then there was a scream.