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review 2018-05-23 03:46
Rich detailed setting and memorable characters
Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly

This was the type of book that when I finished it, I had to lie back down and just stare at the ceiling. It was mind blowing. There are layers of intrigue and you don’t watch it unfold, in fact it’s the opposite, you watch it form and develop as the story progresses.

 

The setting in this one is one of a lot of political instability. It’s explained in the earlier parts of the book. It’s a bit difficult to follow (notes may help some readers) perhaps a character list would help in this case to keep everything straight. A glossary would have helped as well as the characters have their own slang - most of it straight forward but it would help nevertheless. That being said despite these little shortcomings, the world is rich and detailed. Amberlough is decadent and has remnants of Weimar Berlin. Now I did say previously it’s hard to follow because of the slang, but it’s precisely because of this slang that makes the world more detailed and fun to read.

 

The pace of the plot is slow and steady as it sets up the stage for what would follow after. It is essentially, a spy novel, so it quickly leads to a lot of double dealing, moments of backstabbing and betrayal. There are only three characters that you really need to focus on as the supporting ones just add to the flavor of the novel. Of the three that are central to the plot, one must love Aristide.

 

With a name like Aristide Makicosta you know he’s going to be a character to remember. He’s flamboyant, street smart and clever. Despite the world burning around him he always manages to do everything in style. It’s hard not to fall for his charms and so you would understand Cyril’s love for him.  I still don’t know what to think about Cyril. He was doing the job and had to. It came at a great cost but he had no choice and he had to think for himself (although I know there seems to be a lot of hate for him).

 

I love Cordelia. She’s got sass, she’s just as street smart and a survivor. Her character development is on point in this book. Yes she may be just a ‘dancer’ but she soon develops into someone with a cause to defend the city she loves. Despite the horrors she goes through in the latter half of the novel, she doesn’t let it break her. It’s admirable and she’s likable not only because of her catchy personality but also because of her unstoppable strength.

 

That ENDING THOUGH. I felt my eyes grow wide each time I turned the pages throughout the last third of the novel. This was why I had to sit back and just absorb everything I’ve read when I finished this one. It was that good.

 

Greatly recommended if you like intrigue, a decadent setting, and memorable characters. I absolutely enjoyed this book.

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review 2018-05-15 06:11
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly - My Thoughts
Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly

The book I read was not the book I thought I was going to read.  I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got ended up being interesting and thought-provoking, especially in this day and age.

Amberlough is a fictional province in a fictional country called Gedda. A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in this glam spy thriller, or as I've also heard it called - a cabaret thriller. (Think 1930s Germany)

I had problems with what felt to me like slowness in the first 2/3rds of the book, if I'm being honest.  It felt draggy and what's the point, even though the writing was quite good and I will admit, it built up the atmosphere quite well.  It set up a lot of backstory and situational things about the governments and past spy doings that are needed to tell the tale.  But I think I was just not in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. Because the writing is very special and engaging and perfect for the 'period' of the book.

I've seen the book spoken about in romance circles, but it's not really a romance.  Yes, there is a romance at the heart of it, a love story for the ages type of thing, but it's not any kind of HEA that I know about.

The book ends on a cliffhanger and while that usually pisses me off, I was okay with it this time.  It fit the book.  And the book is clever, it's dark, it's scary (especially when held up against the current shit going on in the world), it's exciting.  But there are moments of humour and moments of true sweetness and gentleness, but baby, they're few and far between.  And maybe all the more precious for it.

Anyway, I'll be looking for the second book when it comes out.  Wondering what's happened to the three main characters and if we'll be seeing any of them again.  Two of them I think for sure we will, the third?  I'm not certain at all.

Anyway, Amberlough ended up being a different and intriguing read.  Check it out.

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