The War in the Dark is a new book being released from Nick Setchfield this month — in fact it’s been out since 17 July. On the surface it seems like a dark and disturbing Cold War spy thriller, but then the blurb drops the word demon in pretty casually, which caught my attention right away.
And now here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite before you get your hands on the book!
So without further ado — welcome to The War in the Dark.
A genre-defying page turner that fuses thriller and speculative fiction with dark fantasy in a hidden world in the heart of Cold War Europe.
Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.
When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.
Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .
It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark
Malcolm took a breath. ‘The world is more than we know, Christopher. And less than we hope.’
Winter let his frustration show. ‘What does that even mean?’ he snapped.
‘It means that the true Cold War has been fought for millennia. The oldest war we know. The war we fight at the edges of the light. The war in the dark.’
Winter heard the words but took a moment to make any sense of them. If not for his experience in Notting Hill he might have imagined Malcolm was suffering some kind of breakdown.
‘What did I encounter in that church?’
‘A demon,’ said Malcolm, bluntly. ‘We caught one in Kursk, once, back in the forties. They’re an absolute bugger to interrogate. All available intelligence suggests they’re a lower order of unearthly being. Powerful, amoral, frequently feral. They don’t tend to take sides as such. They’re players and chancers. Very much out for themselves. An absolute nuisance, really.’
‘How long have we known about them?’
‘I can show you files dating back to the court of Elizabeth. Accounts of these beasts that would freezeyour heart. John Dee was one of us, you know. Not just a scholar and an alchemist but a spy and an agent of Walsingham. We’ve always been engaged in this war, Christopher. Always.’
Winter paused to process this. He half heard the hum of Knightsbridge traffic through the torn roof. It seemed to belong to a whole other world. ‘So what was Costigan trading?’
Malcolm’s tongue wet his lips. ‘Runes, as far as we can ascertain. Occult symbols and signifiers. We’ve seen them before. Intercepted some in ’59 in Krasnoyarsk. We’ve had codebreakers on them. Turing’s mob. No luck.’
Malcolm pulled a metal flask from his jacket pocket.
He twisted the cap and took an anxious swig. There was an aroma of whisky. Winter declined the offer of a sip.
‘Whatever these symbols are, whatever they mean, they are clearly important. So important that the Russians want them very badly indeed. I know men who believe these secrets may be more powerful than the atom bomb.’
‘How is that possible?’
‘Oh, I’ve stopped thinking in terms of the possible. It gets you nowhere.’
Malcolm pocketed the flask. ‘There’s not really that much difference between spycraft and magecraft, you know. It’s all symbols and enchantments. Crack a code, cast a spell. We’re all walking in the shadow realms, Christopher.’
Ahhhh, isn’t this good?? What do you think??