A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in Lara Elena Donnelly’s glam spy thriller debut, now a Nebula finalist for Best Novel!
“Exploring the roots of hatred, nationalism, and fascism, while at the same time celebrating the diversity, love, romance, fashion, and joy the world is capable of producing.” —Bookriot
The Smuggler: By day, Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for Amberlough City’s top nightclub. By night, he moves drugs and refugees under the noses of crooked cops.
The Spy: Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, but after a disastrous mission abroad, he makes a dangerous choice to protect himself…and hopefully Aristide too.
The Dancer: Streetwise Cordelia Lehane, burlesque performer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted.
As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.
“James Bond by way of Oscar Wilde.” —Holly Black
“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
“Astonishing first novel!” —World Fantasy Award-winning author Ellen Kushner
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Donnelly blends romance and tragedy, evoking gilded-age glamour and the thrill of a spy adventure, in this impressive debut. In an imagined multinational setting that owes much to pre-WWII Europe but has its own complicated politics, Cyril DePaul is a young man of privilege who's gotten in over his head as an agent for the Amberlough government. Cordelia Lehane is content to scrape out a living any way she can, whether by fabulous stage performances or black market dealings. Cyril is comfortable as a dilettante until a mission goes badly, putting his lover, burlesque performer Aristide Makricosta, at risk under a rising conservative regime that aims to consolidate the four diverse nation-states of Gedda into "one tightly controlled entity." Aristide recruits Cordelia's help without knowing the mortal danger Cyril has accepted in his effort to protect them both. Donnelly's masterly creation is richly imagined and moves at an unchecked pace, painting a layer of sumptuous indulgence over a society of corruption, vice, and oppression. The romance between Cyril and Aristide is presented matter-of-factly; the flaws, roughness, and sincerity are organic to the relationship rather than being the tropes of gay narratives. Cordelia is a singular character, beholden to nobody and far more capable than the supposedly stronger people who are enchanted by her beauty and hope to command her elusive loyalty. When goodness and virtue cannot endure, the characters are drawn inexorably to their limits in a conclusion that is as heartbreaking as it is satisfying.