Breach by W.L. Goodwater
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Breach, first in a new series, Cold War Magic, is an alternate history in which magic was used to create the Berlin Wall at the end of the Second World War. Karen O'Neil is a young magician at the Office of Magical Research and Deployment, doing research on beneficial uses of magic. She is called to Berlin by the State Department and CIA because of a breach in the Berlin Wall. Over a short period of time, and a series of betrayals, Karen begins to see that there is no good side to be working for. From her boss Dr. Haupt, to Mr. Ehle, an East German agent who claims he wants to help save the wall. Karen faces sexism, treachery as she embarks on search for a mysterious book in terrible former wartime camp called Auttenberg, where prisoners were victims of magical experimentation in Nazi Germany.
This book has an interesting premise but the last part left me frustrated with the Mary Sue-like quality of Karen's character by the end of the novel. Also, although the sexism of the era is to be expected if the alternate history remains true to the culture of WWII times, I felt like a lot of Karen's snappish answers to superiors and peers were unrealistic, and even lacking in skill. I can't resist comparisons to Tanya Morozova from The Witch Who Came in from the Cold, who benefitted from the influence of Max Gladstone's writing. I'll probably still pick up the next in the Cold War Magic series but I hope that Goodwater's writing of Karen will grow with the story.
I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the First to Read program in exchange for an honest review
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