Author: Lara Elena Donnelly
Are there LGBT characters? Hell yes, and they are delightfully, fabulously queer. One of the main characters is a brilliant drag emcee-slash-smuggler at the Bumble Bee Cabaret, and a good part of the plot centers on his relationship with a spy.
Brief summary / book review: It’s Cabaret meets La Carre. Set in the fictional Amberlough City (which is somewhat analogous to 1930’s Berlin), a rising tide of fascism is threatening to sweep away the socially liberal (if corrupt) lifestyle denizens have carved out for themselves in that city. Cyril DePaul, a spy, is busted during a mission and in exchange for his life, is forced to become a turncoat. But his feelings for the city and his on-again/off-again lover, Aristide (the aforementioned emcee/smuggler), lead him into a game of deception and lies. My only quibble with the book is actually with the blurb on the cover, which calls it a “dazzling romp.” Dazzling, yes, romp, not so much. There are moments of fun and glamour, but much like “Cabaret,” it’s a sobering and chilling story that’s not as fun as it seems at first glance. But don’t mistake “not as fun as it seems” as criticism — it most assuredly is not. This is one hell of a book, a must-read for LGBT readers, or theater kids, or theater adults.
About the series: Being a gay reader, I am interested in LGBT books, but I haven’t always seen reviews clearly note if there are LGBT characters and how significant they are. These mini reviews are my way of addressing this problem.