A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in Lara Elena Donnelly’s glam spy thriller debut, now a Nebula finalist for Best Novel!
“Exploring the roots of hatred, nationalism, and fascism, while at the same time celebrating the diversity, love, romance, fashion, and joy the world is capable of producing.” —Bookriot
In Amberlough, amidst rising political tensions, three lives become intertwined with the fate of the city itself.
The Smuggler: By day, Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for Amberlough City’s top nightclub. By night, he moves drugs and refugees under the noses of crooked cops.
The Spy: Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, but after a disastrous mission abroad, he makes a dangerous choice to protect himself…and hopefully Aristide too.
The Dancer: Streetwise Cordelia Lehane, burlesque performer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted.
As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.
“James Bond by way of Oscar Wilde.” —Holly Black
“Sparkling with slang, full of riotous characters, and dripping with intrigue, Amberlough is a dazzling romp through a tumultuous, ravishing world.” —Robert Jackson Bennett, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and the Edgar Award
“Astonishing first novel!” —World Fantasy Award-winning author Ellen Kushner
“James Bond by way of Oscar Wilde.” —Holly Black
“Donnelly blends romance and tragedy, evoking gilded-age glamour and the thrill of a spy adventure, in this impressive debut. As heartbreaking as it is satisfying.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Donnelly’s striking debut brings a complex world of politics, espionage, and cabaret life to full vision. The emotional journeys of the characters as they struggle to survive in a society under siege by dark forces will strike a chord with readers as they race to the story’s conclusion.” —Library Journal, starred review, Debut of the Month
“A tightly woven and diverse cast of spies, criminals, cabaret bohemians, and lovers struggles to save what matters to each of them against a tide of rising fascism and violence in Donnelly's debut novel, set in a vaguely 1920s milieu….A sense of inevitable loss and futility permeates this rich drama. The fascists may never be defeated but only escaped—if the characters are willing to abandon the people they love. That dilemma will haunt them, as it haunts the reader.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Amberlough grabbed me from the first page. It is beautiful, all too real, and full of pain. Read it. It will change you." —Hugo Award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal
"An astonishing first novel!" —World Fantasy Award-winning author Ellen Kushner
"Sparkling with slang, full of riotous characters, and dripping with intrigue, Amberlough is a dazzling romp through a tumultuous, ravishing world." —Robert Jackson Bennett, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and the Edgar Award
"It’s a terrific novel. Very Evelyn Waugh meets The Sandbaggers.” —John Chu, Hugo-award winning author
"A peach softens and grows sweeter until it reaches a fragile state, lasting only about six hours, during which it's actually better than perfect--and then it goes off, it's gone, it's through. In Amberlough Donnelly takes us to a city and culture just tipping from this pluperfect moment. What a rich and melancholy book; so tragic, so gay!" —Kai Ashante Wilson, author of Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and the Nebula & World Fantasy finalist for "The Devil in America"
“This is the book we need right now. Amberlough is a gorgeous, crucial reminder that even when the Fascists take over, people will fight back - no matter how flawed or frightened or damaged they might be, or how much they risk by doing so.” —Sam J. Miller, finalist for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards and winner of the Shirley Jackson Award
“Amberlough offers a sharp, lush, sensual espionage Cabaret, a Weimar world of lovers, criminals and spies all floating toward the fire.” —Max Gladstone, LAMBDA Literary Award finalist
"Intrigue and passions intertwine in Amberlough – A city on the edge of political upheaval, glittering with decadence and riddled with spies! Be careful or you too will be lost in the whirl of the kind of glamour familiar in 1930s Shanghai or Weimar-era Berlin. Donnelley's debut is powerfully seductive and wrenching." —Fran Wilde, author of Updraft
"A glittering cabaret of a novel, with show-stopping language on every page." —Lev AC Rosen, author of Depth
“Holy cow—this book is sharp, queer, sexy, and positively eviscerating. It's Cabaret meets spy novel in a lushly imagined fictional city, and a terrifyingly topical tale of fascism's rise. It's a brilliantly realized gut-punch. Highly recommended!” —James L. Sutter, co-creator of the Pathfinder RPG series
"Lust and betrayal, intrigue and treachery, feints within feints within feints—Amberlough will keep readers up late into the night. I look forward to more adventures from Lara Elena Donnelly." —D.B. Jackson, author of the Thieftaker Chronicles
"Amberlough is the stiletto-sharp tale of an intelligence agent caught between corrupt handlers, a rising fascist regime, and his doomed passion for the notorious star of a sizzling underworld nightclub. Sexy and suspenseful, with characters who play for keeps, Donnelly's debut novel mixes secrets, spying, and outlawed love like a perfectly made cocktail... one that seduces before hitting you with an unforgettable kick." —A.M. Dellamonica, LAMBDA Literary Award finalist for Child of a Hidden Sea
"Weirdly elegant, wholly engaging, Donnelly's Amberlough is a richly visualized and genuinely fascinating novel. I couldn't put it down." —Josh Lanyon, author of the Adrien English Mysteries, and USA Book News Award for GLBT Fiction and the Eppie Award winner
"If you put David Bowie, China Mieville, and Shakespeare in Love into a blender, you might get something as rich and frothy as Amberlough. An intricate tale of society where nothing is as it seems, and where the political is all-too-personal." —Cecilia Tan, author of The Struck by Lightning series