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Amberlough: A Novel by Lara Elena Donnelly
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Amberlough: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Lara Elena Donnelly (Author)

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1941087,946 (4.1)21
Member:DeannaHoak
Title:Amberlough: A Novel
Authors:Lara Elena Donnelly (Author)
Info:Macmillan Audio (2017)
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Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

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» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This book tore my heart out and threw it on the floor and stamped on it, and I could not have loved it more. It is grim. It is queer. It is heartbreaking. It is chilling. Fascism is on the rise. Queers are on the run. Hard decisions have to be made. People die. Elections are rigged. War is on the horizon. And yet, and yet, and yet. There are still people fighting.

If you want an escape from what's going on in the world right now, this isn't your book. On the other hand, if you want to look the state of the world in the face and weep, both because it's horrible and because it's *true*--this is exactly the book for you. Go read it. ( )
  VLarkinAnderson | Sep 24, 2018 |
espionage in a fantasy world in which Amberlough stands in for Berlin in upheaval as the republic falls quickly from corrupt democracy into fascism. suspenseful and moving, with characters that become oddly endearing in spite of their flaws because of their will to fight for freedom and for each other. ( )
1 vote macha | Jun 21, 2018 |
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. ( )
  sensitivemuse | May 22, 2018 |
In spite of my fascination for Weimar Berlin, I came very close to bailing on Amberlough early on. It's a fantasy take on Germany in the 1930s, and the rise of fascism, but in spite of the familiar frame, the info dumps of names and places were so dense in the first 50 pages, that I found myself reading without a lot of comprehension. "Who is that again?" I'd wonder, knowing that to try to go back and figure it out would probably be a lost cause.

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. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | May 11, 2018 |
Cyril DePaul is an intelligence agent in Amberlough City (capital of Amberlough, the richest state in the region of Gedda), currently focused on the upcoming election in the neighboring state of Nuesklend. The fascist "One State Party" (also called OSP or Ospies) are gaining power, and Cyril is sent to spy in Nuesklend to uncover who is bankrolling them and how they are manipulating elections. The Ospies are defined by brutal law enforcement tactics, teetotaling, and religious fundamentalism to include the persecution of homosexual activity. Cyril has an unspoken understand with his boyfriend, Ari - Ari pretends he doesn't know Cyril works for the police, and Cyril pretends he doesn't know that Ari is a smuggler and drug runner. Cyril simply enjoys Ari's company, including watching his shows at the Bumble Bee Cabaret. Ari performs with a colorful cast of characters including the club's gruff owner Malcolm, various singers and musicians, and the beautiful star dancer Cordelia Lehane, who uses her mistaken reputation as a brainless sex-pot to her advantage. When Cyril's mission goes sideways, he makes a terrible choice to save the love of his life - by putting everyone else in danger.

What a gorgeous first novel! A difficult but rewarding read which reminded me of a dozen other good books like The Diviners, the Song of Ice and Fire series, Woodwalker, 1984, and a delicious spy novel. The 1920s/30s-era language and slang, especially, made the book difficult to get into but once I did I forgot what time I'm actually living in. One thing I especially think sets it apart from other spy novels or dystopias is that the story is told from the points of view of three main characters (Cyril, Ari, and Cordelia) who are all on the same side. It was a good choice because while Cyril is sympathetic, he made some bad choices and I wouldn't want to spend too much time in his head. I had to take notes to keep the plot and characters straight, but it was TOTALLY worth it. The story is complex, the politics intriguing, the characters beautiful, the writing immersive, and the plot eerily prescient. Highly, highly recommended! ( )
1 vote norabelle414 | Sep 26, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Donnelly blends romance and tragedy, evoking gilded-age glamour and the thrill of a spy adventure, in this impressive debut.
 
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.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lara Elena Donnellyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, GregDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, RhysMap artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kowal, Mary RobinetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ngai, VictoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stafford-Hill, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At the beginning of the workweek, most of Amberlough’s salary-folk crawled reluctantly from their bed—or someone else’s—and let the trolleys tow them, hung over and half asleep, to the office.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765383810, Hardcover)

From author Lara Elena Donnelly, a debut spy thriller as a gay double-agent schemes to protect his smuggler lover during the rise of a fascist government coup

Trust no one with anything – especially in Amberlough City.

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.

Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything – not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives – dictate his life.

Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, a top dancer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans―if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means ― and people ― necessary. Including each other.

Combining the espionage thrills of le Carré with the allure of an alternate vintage era, Amberlough will thoroughly seduce and enthrall you.

"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

"An astonishing first novel!" ―World Fantasy Award-winning author Ellen Kushner

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 02 Jan 2017 18:37:28 -0500)

"Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party--nicknamed the Ospies--is gaining popular support to unite Gedda's four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision. Not everyone agrees with the Ospies' philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril's cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies' watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone--the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies--dictate his life. Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide's runner, who could be the key to Cyril's plans--if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means--and people--necessary. Including each other"--… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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