*Image from Amazon.
In a time and place that mixes World War II with magic, Isabella/Emelie/Noelle is a spy for the SOE and an Apprentice-Level Alchemist who left the Grey Tower, where all people with magic get trained, to help out the war effort. Isabella gets assigned to go behind enemy lines to try to bring into custody Dr. Veit, who has used his knowledge of magic to create a chemical weapon called, simply, The Plague. Naturally, it doesn't go according to plan and she must find a way to destroy the chemical weapon, get out of the war-zone safely, all the while keeping herself out of the hands of Grey Tower Agents and the Black Wolves who wish to use her to get her father.
This was quite the adventure! I'm not gonna say it was all a fun ride because there was genuine emotional turmoil included, but that just helped to make it such a good book. This world's use and acceptance of the reality of magic was seamless. It never seemed out of place for someone to be able to create symbols and unleash the elements.
Isabella is a strong and intelligent woman, as someone in her line of work should be. Her tools of the trade mix traditional spy gear with magical gear. She has emerald glasses that let her see in the dark. She has red garnet lipstick that, when kissed, allows her influence over the kisser. A wonderful blend of spy and magic gear.
My favorite part of this book is the entire cast and crew of characters. It's so easy to feel for the people she meets behind the lines, the people who have lost everything, the people who are tired of fighting but continue to do so. It is written in such a way that much of the history of World War II is still there, there's just magic involved as well. The people of Britain are still conserving every ounce of food and cooking with even the most disliked ingredients (liver sandwiches, bleh). The people of France are on strict rations with curfews and are killed on the streets if suspected of any Marquisard activities or sympathies. This book almost brought me to tears through its characters.
All of this and I've barely scratched the surface the Grey Tower vs the Black Wolves! The Order versus "vampires" that drink the blood of wizards to gain their energy. Plus, the hunt for Isabella's father who is believed to be a Drifter, a magician who can travel through time. There is just so much going on in this book, but it is so well balanced that it never feels overwhelming. It never feels like the author is skipping over important details.
This was a great read. If you like magic-in-the-real-world, or fictional stories set in World War II, or stories about magical forces at war with each other, I highly recommend this book. I couldn't put it down!