cover image The House of War and Witness

The House of War and Witness

Mike Carey, Linda Carey, and Louise Carey. ChiZine (Consortium, U.S. dist.; PGC, Canadian dist.), $16.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-77148-312-4

In 1740, a company of Austrian soldiers arrives at Narutsin, a village on the Prussian border. Lodged in Pokoj, a ramshackle ruin of a house, they discover that the previous garrison has vanished and the villagers are strangely unwelcoming to their protectors. While Lieutenant Klaes attempts to ferret out the facts behind the locals' hostility, Drozde, the quartermaster's mistress, discovers that Pokoj teems with ghosts, "unhoused creatures, delivered out of time in a second birth that was more painful than the first." Untethered to linear time, these talkative wraiths are maddeningly obscure in their intimations of a horrific incident on the horizon that threatens the lives of everyone in the town. The Careys (The Steel Seraglio) have constructed a fantastical ghost story and a suspenseful military mystery. The novel's true strength lies in its characters. Klaes is more hapless than heroic, but his humanity shines through, particularly when he's faced with his superior's murderous rage. Drozde, the true beating heart of the novel, is a fierce survivor, resourceful and independent in a world that values neither quality in a woman. As the pair strives to solve a puzzle straddling the real and the supernatural, the Careys deliver a daringly original fantasy novel. Agent: Meg Davis, Ki Agency. (Feb.)