Author: Brendan Bellecourt
Release Date: 9/2/21
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 39
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from Head of Zeus ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Liam Mulcahey, a reclusive, shell-shocked veteran, remembers little of the Great War. Ten years later, when he is caught in a brutal attack on a Chicago speakeasy, Liam is saved by Grace, an alluring heiress who’s able to cast illusions. Though the attack appears to have been committed by the hated Uprising, Grace believes it was orchestrated by Leland De Pere–Liam’s former commander and the current President of the United States.
Meeting Grace unearths long-buried memories. Liam’s former squad, the Devil’s Henchmen, was given a serum to allow telepathic communication, transforming them into a unified killing machine. With Grace’s help, Liam begins to regain his abilities, but when De Pere learns of it, he orders his militia to eliminate Liam at any cost.
But Liam’s abilities are expanding quickly. When Liam turns the tables and digs deeper into De Pere’s plans, he discovers a terrible secret. The same experiment that granted Liam’s abilities was bent toward darker purposes. Liam must navigate both his enemies and supposed allies to stop the President’s nefarious plans before they’re unleashed on the world. And Grace is hiding secrets of her own, secrets that could prove every bit as dangerous as the President’s.
This was really interesting. It was Deco-punk and aesthetic a really enjoy. I feel it was missing a little of the glamour and Deco aspects promised by the blurb, which initially left me a little disappointed. However, as the story built a rich alternative history emerged with a creative use of technology. I really like the use of the ‘Magic system’ the various character’s ability to distort reality. I thought this was really interesting and how that played into the reveals of information for Liam ( the Main Character).
The plot did begin to feel a little repetitive, particularly in the try fail cycles. It became formulaic in these set pieces. Characters disguise themselves, easily break into a facility, get discovered after a short while, fight way out with some rescued people. This occurs a fair few times and without much variation and that disappointed me how similar these events were. This was amplified by these being the major source of action for the plot. The rest of the plot relaying highly on flashbacks to reveal what is happening with Liam internally and how that relates to him rediscovering aspects that help his plight in his current predicaments.
I actually preferred the flashbacks and Liam’s rediscovery of himself than the main plotline. While this is a slower paced sub plot, Liam is a fantastic character and having his known world, thoughts and feelings broken down and memories rebuilt and how he as a character reshapes in response to the new knowledge is really subtle and fantastically well written. This is also the sections where the most world building is done. We learn about the Alternative history which is incredibly detailed but it never feels like an info dump.
I do wish he had explored the ‘illusions’ more and that the side characters got more time so we could get to know them and feel for their cause a bit more. However, with all my reservations it is still a very well written book, with an enjoyable character driven plot.