declareI actually finished reading Declare last weekend, but a mixture of workload and being severely under the weather for the past three days (can’t decide if  it’s a new cold or if I just haven’t entirely got rid of the one I had before Christmas and it’s just come back to remind me how much it cares) meant that I haven’t been out from under enough to consider posting. But I’m beginning to feel a little bit better and may have revived sufficient brain cells to do this some justice. Because I really, really enjoyed this novel.

Bit of background; the Book God is a Powers fan and has been encouraging me to try his stuff, but the only thing I’ve read is The Anubis Gates which was good but didn’t have me rushing to the bookshelves to locate any more. Every time I say to the BG that I’m looking for something to read, he says “why not try Declare?” but I’ve usually gone off and found something else. The thing that  made me change my mind this time was reading The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross – more of that later.

Declare brings together espionage and the supernatural; that’s clear from the beginning. It tells the story of Andrew Hale, recruited by the British Secret Service at the age of seven, undercover in France during the Second World War and in Berlin and the Middle East afterwards, and his connection with Kim Philby and an unfinished operation code-named Declare.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot; the pleasure of this book is how convincing it is about the world it operates in, of spies and resistance movements and the use of the supernatural by countries for their own ends. It’s very creepy in places, incredibly atmospheric, and Powers has taken what we know about Philby and put an unusual interpretation on the facts. It’s worth reading the author’s afterword.

As for Stross, well he became aware of Declare when writing The Atrocity Archives and although superficially they have common themes, they really are quite different. I think Stross himself said that if he was writing like Len Deighton, then Powers was John le Carre.

I can really recommend this.