by Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Tor Books
Page Count: 304
Release Date: August 16, 2016
How got: local library
First attention getter: the concept and the author
Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.
Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.
Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…
Star Rating - 5
I really hope this book is the start of a series, ‘cause holy carp, is it good! Where I thought the book was headed changed about page 75-ish into a completely new direction. The new events led us on a heart-wrenching, suspenseful mystery/spy thriller that I wasn’t expecting. The intensity of the story and how much I was hooked surprised me. How’s that for proof of a great story?!
I loved Ginger. She’s a blend of courage and vulnerability, making her instantly relatable to the average person today. Experiencing a tumult of emotions throughout the entire book, she struggles at times to hold it together as she faces spies, bodies, and murder right and left. Yet, when the situation calls for it, she finds the inner strength deep down to face down enemy mediums and traitors alike.
When I say this story is intense, I think I’ve got to admit I’m understating things. This tale is a roller coaster ride of narrow escapes, chases through trenches and warfare, and confrontations with people Ginger wasn’t sure she could trust. The reader was never sure who was working for Ginger’s benefit or detriment. The final identity of the traitor/murderer blew me away, completely unexpected.
The author gave us an intricate, detailed ghost and medium system, like her previous series’ magic system. I love when the author takes the time to explore the mechanics of how the supernatural elements work into the story and how they affect the society and events portrayed.
In this book, she explores how a ghost operates and how their emotional state deteriorates their being. Seeing the ghosts loose themselves if they don’t immediately cross over after reporting in made my heart cringe in places. I also loved seeing how medium-ship and spying through spirits affected WWI and its espionage scene. Everything was unique to my reading experience which is not something that can be always said nowadays.
An engrossing tale from start to finish, this book continue to surprise throughout. A combination of relatable characters, suspenseful storytelling, and a great supernatural system makes this one stand out. I really hope this book is the start to a series; I’d be first in line to buy book two. This author has proven in the past to only get better as a series progresses. This book left some intriguing threads unanswered so I am panting for more exploration. More please, Ms. Kowal!!