I picked this up when I was at the bookstore simply because of how gorgeous the cover of the hardcover edition was. When I brought it home and saw that the first review on the inside cover said it was “John Le Carré meets Cabaret“, I knew I’d made the right decision in buying it outright. And once I got swept up in the glitter and glam of Donnelly’s queer underworld, I wanted to buy it all over again.
The story followers three major players, government worker Cycil, his lover and criminal big wig, Aristide, and a dancer/runner named Cordelia. The three of them all lead very different lives that are soon bound together in conspiracy as a radical “right-wing” government entity known as the Ospies takes over.
I found it took me a few chapters before I really got into the story, but I very quickly fell in love with all of the characters. I’m a huge John Le Carré fan, so I can certainly say that the comparison between Lara Elena Donnelly’s book and the work of Le Carré definitely belong in the same category. Cycil is honestly everything I love about cold war era spy novels while Aristide is everything I love about modern queer fiction while Cordelia is just a straight up kick-ass woman.
The plot falls very closely in line to Cabaret, but takes in it a new direction that is incredibly intricate as not only does it wind the personal lives of it’s protagonists together, it also has a very deep set political plot in the foreground. The world building an incredibly metaphor of the real world and at the end of the day all I can really say is that I can’t wait to get my hands on book two.
If you like spies, drag queens, and shameless queer sexuality, this is definitely the book to pick up.