*Spoilers will be throughout this review. I would advise not reading this review unless you have read the previous book, The Lazarus Gate.
I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
It is 1879 and the sky above London burns with fire, revealing the rift through which nameless terrors threaten to tear apart the very fabric of reality. Lillian Hardwick and her psychic partner Sir Arthur Furnival – agents of the Crown – have been sent to investigate a series of disappearances from the slums. Meanwhile her brother and fellow agent John Hardwick has been sent north on his own mission, which culminates in a horrifying discovery. In a world already beset by enemies, the Hardwicks will discover an ancient threat that has long hidden in the shadows, but is ready to make its power known…
Following on from the first novel in The Apollonian Casefiles, The Iscariot Sanction is set before events within The Lazarus Gate in the alternate universe that threatens to overtake Victorian England in TLG. The Iscariot Sanction follows Lillian and John Hardwick alongside the agents of Apollo Lycea as they face the threat of an enemy that wants to dominate and make their place within society whilst battling an unseen foe that tries to force its way through rifts within the universe and feed off the fear and madness of the citizens of Victorian England.
Going into this novel I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was presently surprised to find myself thrown into the narrative of Lillian, a character we did not see much of perspective-wise within The Lazarus Gate. These chapters really added more dimension to Lillian and set her firmly in amongst the characters, allowing us to understand how and why she became the person that she was in TLG. Considering she was an antagonist within the first novel, I found myself becoming quite fond of her as a character within this novel; a strong, independent female fulfilling a role primarily held by men within an era that saw woman with little power (except of course for the Queen). We got to see how Lillian faced these issues and how she set herself apart from those within Apollo Lycea and her development is impressive. She also comes across as someone loyal and trustworthy with an almost sarcastic tone to some of her conversations which endeared me towards her even more.
For those that read my blog tour post on Friday (this can be found here), it will come as no surprise that the main threat in this novel is vampires. Latham provides a completely different take on these supernatural creatures: there is a hierarchy to their own society (purebloods, ghouls etc) and depending on their position and how they were created puts them in their place, they are not necessarily “beautiful” creatures but possess brilliantly violet eyes, bald heads and ugly facial features. Latham doesn’t try to make us like these creatures, they are the enemy within this novel and a threat to humanity and Latham portrays their part in society well. Not one of these vampires has a good bone in their body, but Lillian may be the first.
In general, I just really enjoyed and appreciated the extra clarity that Latham has put upon the characters and the overall plotline. It was interesting to find out how the alternate London from the first novel came to be the horror that it was portrayed at, and what actions caused these consequences. It is a brilliant backstory that fleshes out lots of the characters, even though some of these characters are doppelgangers and not the true characters from the first novel, it is still fun and interesting to watch these characters progress in ways that were different or the same as their counterparts from TLG.