First of a fantasy series set in an alternate world where nomadic Asian hordes invade America.
Farren (Underland, 2002, etc.) builds his story around four young people. East Virginia teenager Argo Weaver runs away from his hometown to escape a brutal stepfather and the oppressive Mosul occupying force. Spoiled aristocrat Cordelia Blakeney comes from the kingdom of Albany, which holds Eastern America above the Potomac. Raphael Vega, a Spanish conscript to the Mosul army, is being shipped to America to serve as cannon fodder in the impending invasion of Albany. Jessamine serves as a sex slave of a Teuton colonel allied to the Mosul hordes. These four, we learn early on, are destined to become The Four: a magical, superhuman force able to oppose the Mosul armies and their supernatural allies. They are aided by Yancey Slide, reputed to be a demon, who takes Argo to a band of Albany Rangers, guerrillas fighting against the Mosul. Cordelia, joining one of her lovers for a dirigible ride, crash-lands a short distance from the main Mosul camp near the Potomac. Captured, she quickly meets Jessamine, whose colonel has gone off to inspect the engines of the crashed airship. Meanwhile, Raphael’s unit is being trucked in from the south to join the massing invasion forces. Farren alternates scenes of action, sex, and brutality as the four follow separate trails to their inevitable union; finally together, they unite to repel the Mosul invasion, defeating a series of supernatural attackers while the guns of Albany repel the physical invasion. Farren loads the book with alternate history in-jokes, including a cast that features a female Col. Patton and other iconic figures from recent history. An abrupt ending makes it clear there will be sequels.
Fast-moving, if sometimes incoherent.