Final installment of the historical fantasy trilogy (Dark Victory, 2012, etc.) wherein a Hungarian Jewish witch and her fallen-angel husband battle the Nazis in an alternate World War II.
After a prolonged and tearful farewell, Magda, the last of the Lazarus witches, packs her whiny sister Gisele off to England so that she and husband Raziel can seek this book’s MacGuffin, the Heaven Sapphire, a gem powerful enough to defeat even the demon Asmodel, by whom Hitler is possessed. Again, she will need the support of her sponsor, the defiantly anti-Nazi vampire Count Bathory of Budapest. Currently, the gem appears to be located in the Caucasus, home of fire-demons and unfortunately occupied by the Soviets. With the help of magic-carpet dealer Ziyad, Magda and Raziel draw close to their objective, but there are complications. Hitler may be about to break his compact with Stalin and attack the oil fields. Asmodel has his own schemes afoot. The Soviets have invented machines that render magic null and void. And it’s far from certain what Raziel’s brothers, some of them fallen, others still angelic, will do. As before, there are long chunks of travelogue and talk but precious little actual drama, and the narrative’s degenerated to the point where much of it is mere reportage. Worst of all, the final confrontation with Asmodel—and it reveals nothing to state that there is one—manages to be both inexplicable and disappointing.
Promising material undermined by undisciplined, poor writing and a failure of nerve, although fans of the previous book will at least want to know how it all comes out.