It is 1963, some eighteen years after World War Two, in this alternative reality, Germany wasn’t split between Russia, American and Great Britain, but held solely by the USSR, who have been quiet about the concentration camps and the rest of the world has swung back to normal. This ‘normal’ looks something like pre-WW2 but as you’re flung into this, you’re having to develop this picture as more information is given.
What is pivotal to these changes is the battle at the end of the previous book, ‘Bitter Seeds’, where the British Milkweed team of warlocks defeats the battery-charged super-powered beings created by the Reichsbehörde technology. There were a few survivors but most of these were imprisoned by the Russians. Well, that is until Klaus and Gretel finally escape and head to Great Britain with a plan to…
Now there is a problem, just how much to reveal. People like Raybould Marsh is brought out of retirement to handle the problem. Not only of Klaus and Gretel, but also who is killing the remaining warlocks or Enochians as they call themselves. Where these beings are concerned, this appears to be more of a fantasy element when compared to how much detail is given to the German super-beings. The past twenty years have also not been kind to the two Germans and Klaus is happy to retire after debriefing but Gretel has her own plans.
I have to confess that I’m not entirely convinced by this novel. Author Ian Tregillis could have done a lot more for this alternative reality where the Russians held Germany and yet everything is almost back to the state of pre-World War Two. Well, apart from picking up dog pooh in a bag off the street. Something that only caught on in the past decade in the UK. You would have thought the Russians might have been a little more pro-active in all of this and even attempted to repeat von Westarp’s experiments. If anything, their lack of involvement is surprising because you would have thought they would have had spy rings in Britain to realise what was going on. The reason I’m highlighting this so much is because Tregillis’ hint of the change is tantalising enough to want to see how this affects the world far more than Gretel’s actions which ultimately don’t really give a satisfying ending.
Read with caution and be wary of anyone with wires out of their head. Well, unless they’re after a pair of wire-cutters.
(pub: TOR/Forge. 349 page hardback. Price: $25.99 (US), $29.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2151-0)