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Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly


by Lara Elena Donnelly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Amberlough Dossier (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3382053,715 (3.94)27
"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)

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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
10 stars??? 10? yes? ( )
  allison_s | May 25, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this book, a nuanced exploration of what happens to everyday people as a country succumbs to fascism. Cordelia was especially a standout character for me. I just wish it had wrapped up more satisfyingly; it very much felt unfinished and leading to a sequel.
  dreamweaversunited | Apr 30, 2020 |
DNF - just can’t quite get over the prose, which is overwritten & clunky.
  elucubrare | Apr 26, 2020 |
There was a lot to like about Amberlough. But this is billed as a fantasy, set in a fantasy world that is really a stand-in for Germany during the rise of the Nazis. There was nothing other than place names and a few references to an old religion to distinguish this world from our own. For me, I think it would have been a better read if it were presented as straight historical fiction. As a fantasy, I expected at least one significant difference that would affect the world--something to do with that old religion, perhaps. I also expected a bit more history of the world itself and how its politics came to be, something that wasn't just a thinly veiled rendering of 1930s Europe. So the whole thing threw me off because it wasn't meeting my expectations, and I would have been a lot more comfortable if I had just known it was a spy thriller.

That being said, I thought the writing was very descriptive, almost cinematic in places, and the Cordelia character was complex, flawed, and interesting. The story was interesting, if a little dense in places, but I find that to be true of most spy novels. The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, and I'm not sure I'll continue with the series. ( )
  sturlington | Nov 27, 2019 |
I really enjoyed this. It did beautiful renditions of all the things it was trying to reflect--Cabaret and a spy thriller--while building them into something that felt refreshing and totally new. (Though I am about 150% on board with more fantasy that has streetcars and guns and bootleg booze. All the shades of modernity coming through in fantasy recently are delicious to me.) I think I might have enjoyed this even more if cabaret or spy thrillers were things I loved.

The characters are fun, flawed and compelling all in their own delicious bundles. I noted in updates that I wasn't quite sold on the worth-the-death-of-civilisations love of the two central characters, but as things soured and shattered they grew on me (to the point of appropriately desperate heart-clutching in the finale). And both they and the supporting characters have wonderful arcs. All in all, it builds a place that is believable, memorable, mournable, and a story that feels tremendously real.

I enjoyed it a great deal. I am looking forward to the sequel. ( )
  cupiscent | Aug 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (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

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lara Elena Donnellyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, GregDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, RhysMap artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kowal, Mary RobinetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stafford-Hill, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents, who read to me.
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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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Average: (3.94)
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