Donnelly returns readers to the world of Amberlough (2017) in this sequel, in which the fallout of a fascist regime's triumph continues to haunt those who escaped it...or who thought they had.
Aristide Makricosta fled Amberlough for the balmy nation of Porachis, where he has found luxury, employment, a sponsor, and the companionship of attractive young Daoud to help him forget his lover Cyril—Cyril, the compromised spy whose treason aided the victory of the repressive One State Party. Aristide is content to drink away the memories of his time as a resistance member, but the past finds him in the form of Cordelia Lehane, a former colleague and current acting-but-absent leader of the insurrection. Cordelia isn't the only one haunting Ari: Cyril's sister, Lillian DePaul, has become indispensable to the OSP as a press attaché, her cooperation secured by threats to her child. Other old faces darken Ari's doorstep, including the operative he blames for Cyril's death. Even Ari's filmmaking boss has her fingers in political pies. The disparate threads of the large cast take much too long to bundle together, moving through interminable clandestine meetings before finally knotting together as a tentative truce formed around old loves and a common enemy, while a painful revelation drives Ari from his self-imposed numbness and back into fighting the OSP. This motley team must work together to pull off a daring rescue of Lillian's son and discover just how far they can trust each other. In contrast to the first installment, the action is muted and quiet, but as the groundwork is laid for a next book, this is likely the calm before the storm.
Slow to get off the ground, but readers who enjoy luxuriating in the book's rich prose, sharp dialogue, and detailed interpersonal histories won't mind.