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by Lara Elena Donnelly
TOR books; $16.99; 400 pp.
Published: May 2018

This is a fine sequel to the decadent and fascinating Amberlough, Donnelly’s first book.

There’s been a nasty revolution and a Nazi-like group referred to as the Ospies have taken over the land of Gedda which is made up of several distinct provinces. Two of the main characters in the first book, Aristide and Cordelia, return. Cordelia is still heavily involved in the resistance. And Aristide, a well-known nightclub performer in the previous book, has landed with cat-like grace on his feet and is now directing films in a province called Porachis. Still living the high and profligate life he did before, just under another name and look.

But I am going to warn you, at least for me…the first forty pages or so were confusing as I didn’t know who was who and what they were doing. It took me a while to pick up the pacing of the book. We are thrown into the action immediately and it just took a while for me to reach a balance and understand the characters relationships to the others since I didn’t instantly recall them from Amberlough If you’ve just read Amberlough then there should be no problem, but it has been over a year and many, many books since, for me. So hang in there.

This is still fully a “Cabaret” like environment here, opulent materials and cocktails, tasteful, lavish interiors, a great deal of snark and double-entendre. The main characters are all fascinating with their own agendas hidden beneath their Hollywood-like veneer.

Lillian DePaul has been the press representative for the Ospies, presenting their carefully tailored info at press conferences and handling the spin on events. The Ospies have her son held hostage for her good behavior…though ostensibly, he is in a fancy private school and sees his mother on occasional holidays. You see, Lillian De Paul’s brother was Cyril, a lover of Aristide in the previous book.  The Ospie’s say he died…but he just might be “lost” in the wilds of Gedda somewhere.

Cordelia still wants to arm the resistance and finds help in the most unexpected place. And this unexpected co-conspirator is willing to get Lillian’s son away from the Ospies’ control in return for Cordelia’s guns. And Aristide, deciding to leave the dissolute world of filmmaking in Porachis is also commandeered into helping because he wants to find out if Cyril is really dead.

The world here is a riot of Eastern -flavored colors, clothing and fragrances. It is more tropical and a lot takes place at a huge manor house overlooking the ocean. It’s what I like best about Donnelly’s writing: the utter decadence of it all. It is as full of intrigue as the previous novel.

There is a map at the beginning of the book that is completely of no use. Most of the action takes place in Porachis and other places which are not on the map. And because this novel is titled: Armistice, I will assume there will be more, once things ratchet up again. When the armistice ends. ~~ Sue Martin

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