Author: Ian Tregillis, 2010.
Genre: Period Fiction. Alternative History. Occult Horror. War. Spy Fiction.
Other Details: Hardcover. 352 pages.
"Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.
When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities—a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present—Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be." - synopsis from author's website.
Set principally between 1930 and 1941, Bitter Seeds is the opening act for the Milkweed Triptych. In it the Nazis utilise 'super' humans and the British use magicians and their summonings to engage in a secret war.
I had been attracted by the premise of this novel when it was promoted on Goodreads and was very happy to find that my local library carried a copy. It is a relentlessly dark tale but that suited the war-time setting and the events depicted. Characterisation was strong on both sides of the conflict including its female characters. It felt an assured opening for the trilogy and I am now anxious to read the next book that is set during the Cold War.
'Bitter Seeds' on Ian Tregillis website - with links to various interviews and an excerpt.