The Infernal Game: Cold Warriors by Rebecca Levene
“You died twenty years ago. Welcome back…“
Over the last couple of years, I have become a fan of the publisher Abaddon Books and have taken the opportunity to read as many of their ongoing series as I can get my hands on. I enjoy The Afterblight Chronicles, and Pax Britannia has become a personal favourite (more on that in the next review). I recently picked up the first book in another series called The Infernal Game.
The Infernal Game: Cold Warriors by Rebecca Levene charts the fortunes of the members of the Hermetic Division, the United Kingdom’s supernatural investigation agency. Disbanded at the end of the cold war the agency is reformed when rumours resurface regarding the mysterious Ragnarok artefacts. These items are said to grant their possessor great power.
Due to the nature of their work the Hermetic Division is top secret and their existence is only known by a select few. The reader gets to follow new recruit, Morgan Hewitt, a marksman from the army who is seconded into the new team. As Morgan begins to learn the secrets of the Division he discovers that magic is real and there is an ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil.
Morgan is partnered with Tomas, who was an agent with Hermetic Division back in the 1980s, and they are tasked with locating the missing artefacts. Tomas went missing when the Division was decommissioned and seems not to have aged at all in the twenty years that have passed. Tomas’ character brings an interesting perspective to the novel. As the story shifts location from the UK to Germany, Poland and then Russia you get a real feeling of how he still views these places. For him nothing has changed, and he still sees Eastern Europe as it was before the collapse of Communism. The world may have moved on but Tomas has not moved with it.
Once the novel moves from the UK to mainland Europe two further characters are introduced. Anya, is an agent from the German equivalent of the Hermetic Division, and Belle, an eleven year old girl in the employ of the CIA.
In Cold Warriors there are secrets everywhere. All four main characters have their own secrets. Where has Tomas been? Why was Morgan selected to join the Hermetic Division? How is it possible that Anya can be in two places at once? Why has the CIA got an eleven year old on their payroll?
Blending the elements of these two genres together, espionage and supernatural, works well. Both types of tale rely on secrets, and knowledge that remains hidden until a key moment in the narrative, so mixing the two feels natural and not forced. Some of the characters are trying to uncover secrets while others attempt to keep their secrets hidden. There is betrayal and double crossing and all the characters are continually mistrustful and wary of one another. The supernatural element of the story adds a tension to the novel that develops as the book progresses. This builds toward an exciting climax involving an army of the dead.
In some respects Cold Warriors suffers a little being the first book in an ongoing series. After the initial prologue it takes a while before the pace really picks up but once it does it is great. There is a lot of, albeit necessary, scene setting but this is a very minor gripe on my part. Overall I enjoyed all the action scenes I just wish there was more. Cold Warriors shows a great deal of potential and I was keen to learn more of the Hermetic Division’s secrets when I was done.
There is a sequel currently available called The Infernal Game: Ghost Dance.