I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything in quite this genre before. It’s basically urban fantasy, except set during the Cold War (which makes some sense, given this book was released in 1986) and with an extra helping of espionage (ESPionage) thrown in. It’s an interesting change and the two styles complement one another.

I don’t know if I’ve read many books where the first two chapters go quite so strongly back and forth between this is cool and that’s gross. It evened out a bit over the course of the book, but there was still a good amount of each.

The basic world building takes our own world and adds a bunch of ESPers on top; with ESPers being a general term for all sorts of supernatural power. We see people that can read minds, ones that can see far away events, and those that can speak with the dead (in two different flavors). It’s an interesting sort of world and somehow manages not actually to feel too kitchen-sinky, which is a general problem in urban fantasy. Also, there are vampires. I have a feeling we’ll be learning a bit more about them later, but so far I’m cautiously intrigued by this particular interpretation. They’re weird and alien, which is neat.

One oddity with the book comes with the main character’s abilities–that of a Necroscope. The basic idea is that he can speak with the dead and learn from / gain their abilities. It’s a cool power, although in the last ten percent of the story it gets insanely powerful. I’m not sure how there can be a sequel, let alone a dozen of them. I’m curious to find out though.

Structurally, there’s a framing story taking place in the present, telling the story that actually takes place throughout the past many years. In addition, we follow a few different viewpoints (following at least two main characters). It’s a bit confusing at first, but started to gel for me about a quarter of the way through the story. There is at least one interesting twist that the frame allows, so I appreciate that.

Occasionally, the phrasing and especially the punctuation that interrupted my reading. I don’t know if I’ve read a novel with quite so many ellipses and exclamation points. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s weird.

Overall, worth the read and I’ll check out the sequels. At the very least, I want to know how in the world their going to deal with such radical events for both main characters during the ending…

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