Where to begin? I should take a day off from work to write this one, but I can't.
Just days ago I assumed I was going to give this book 3 stars. That reflected disappointment. The first couple hundred pages are... well, I guess the word is "slow". Many of the scenes held my interest but they did not seem to be adding up to much and I was getting impatient. I'm sure readers drop this thing left and right before getting to page 300. I can't imagine not wanting to start it though. One of the characters is Kim Philby. The story is a a spy novel that integrates real people and events with elements of the supernatural. The settings include Paris during World War 2, London, and the Middle East and Soviet Union during the 1960s.
But the story unfolds slowly. I didn't mind what I read, but ultimately the author probably should have been more selective about what he showed of the main character's past. That man, Andrew Hale, becomes a spy who works on a super secret operation that involves supernatural creatures and the Cold War. It takes forever for important scenes with the supernatural to occur, but ultimately, I thought it was worth the wait. These things are influential but hidden. Most of us have no idea they are influencing Cold War events, and Powers has stuck to the facts but slipped these things into his alternative history. If you are patient, there is a reward. When Andrew Hale faces them, it's scary. Powers does not portray him as a courageous hero. He's scared of these things.
Hale has a love interest. Some of those first 300 pages set that up. It's complicated because her spy career revolves around the supernatural too. It is an interesting twist on the whole spy vs spy love thing, but the characters are not as vivid as they need to be for it to amaze.
If you're patient and are interested in alternative history with elements of the supernatural weaved around real events and real people, you should check this out. Why would you want to miss a scene with elite soldiers in World War 2 army jeeps on the side of a mountain being told by some captain they don't know (Andrew Hale) that supernatural beings await them at the top of the hill? Hale feels guilty about what happens next, but who could prepare anyone for that?