Cover Image: Breach


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I wanted to like this book more than I did. A magical wall separates Soviet occupied Berlin and Western Berlin, there is a breach in the wall and Karen,  a magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach and to fix it if she can. The book itself is grounded in a real scenario, a barrier of sorts separating the city of Berlin, but it's an urban fantasy story with magical realism elements. While the set up is good, and the magical system is actually decently thought out, I was not a fan of the writing or writing style. I thought the pacing was slow for a book of this nature and wasn't as invested as I thought I should be.
Was this review helpful?
Good characters, but really unbelievable plot. Interesting locales.  Magic seems to be a cliche now.  Maybe for high schoolers?
Was this review helpful?
This book had an intriguing premise and in my head I pictured "'What if Peggy Carter had graduated from Hogwarts to go kick some Russian Butt."  Instead, I found this book hard to get through and not much fun.  It's heavy on plotting, set in an alternate universe Berlin where the Wall dividing East and West is made of magic instead of concrete.  Russians, Americans, and former Nazis battle for control of the city and its dangerous magical asset.  

When exactly does it take place?  There's absolutely no sense of timeframe here, although from some dialogue and the ages of the characters you can guess it's set in the early 1960s.  No description of clothing, food, music, current events, or physical surroundings would tip you off.  There IS a lot of smoking, though.  Characters speak exactly like modern people, with the exception of an extra layer of overt misogyny directed toward Karen O'Neill's main character.  She responds as if she has had a lifetime of feminist role models encouraging her to believe in her abilities, although none exist in this story.  (Karen is the sole female character.)  The characters are also fairly thin and predictable, which means that when they were in danger I had a hard time feeling invested.  The writing is not strong enough to carry the amount of plot we're given, resulting in consequences for everyone's actions happening mostly to nameless masses offscreen. 

Two stars for some good ideas and an action-packed conclusion.
Was this review helpful?
An alternative history book that .basically uses this theme as a device to establish a setting for this interesting science fiction/fantasy tale. This is a thriller, mixing all the elements of history, magic and action, to create an engrossing story.
Was this review helpful?
It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
Was this review helpful?
For those who like the idea of a cold war era with magic, the plot and characters are appealing. Especially with the popularity of JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts movies coming out. I will definitely recommend this book to adult Harry Potter fans.
Was this review helpful?
There’s probably no subgenre in all of speculative fiction that I enjoy more than alternate history. For whatever reason, the notions of experiencing familiar events filtered through an unfamiliar lens and seeing different ideas of how the world might move if there were subtle – or not-so-subtle – alterations are endlessly fascinating to me.

That isn’t to say that every effort is a good one. There’s as much lazy, formulaic writing in alternate history as there is anywhere else in the realm of genre fiction; it all comes down to keeping eyes and mind open and hoping the next one you grab is a good one.

W. L. Goodwater’s “Breach” is a good one. The first in a proposed series, this alternate history takes a look at the Cold War in a world where magic is real, a tool that has been weaponized in the service of battle. It’s a time period that sometimes gets short shrift in alt-history circles, but Goodwater more than makes up for that with a taut tale that offers a rich sense of a world that, despite the presence of magic, is not that different than our own.

In the aftermath of World War II, the city of Berlin was bisected by a wall. Soviet magicians executed some of the most complex spells ever cast by man, creating a massive barrier composed entirely of magic. It was viewed by many in the global community as an affront, but in the name of peace – however uneasy it might be – it was reluctantly treated as an acceptable price. For a decade, the battle was waged through traditional espionage rather than magecraft.

But when a breach is discovered in the heretofore impenetrable wall, the CIA is left in an unenviable spot. If the wall is failing, that drastically alters everything about the situation in Berlin. With people on both sides engaged in a staring contest, the Americans need a magician of their own to assess what needs to be done before someone blinks.

The Office of Magical Research and Deployment (OMRD) is America’s repository for magical knowledge. Karen is a researcher there, a gifted practitioner whose biggest fault is a tendency toward self-doubt. When she is chosen by OMRD head Dr. Haupt – a former German agent with a shadowy past – to head to Berlin for an unspecified job, she is surprised, but willing.

However, it’s not until she arrives that Karen is told what her mission is and learns just how monumental a task lies before her. With little assistance available to her, she is asked to determine what is causing the breach and how it can be fixed. But as the breach starts to grow and others start to appear, the danger increases. And the more Karen digs, the more she starts to think that there’s a good deal more to all of this than meets the eye.

She has no idea how right she is.

With little more than her wits and a few erstwhile allies, it’s up to Karen to find the true secret of the wall before its collapse opens the door to another World War – one where magic might go from tactical weapon to existential threat. All this while her counterpart on the other side – a Russian colonel and magician known as the Nightingale – relentlessly pursues his own country’s agenda.

As far as series introductions go, it’s tough to do much better than “Breach.” It’s a well-realized world – rich in detail while also allowing that detail to unroll organically; there’s not much in the way of the expository info dumps that often mar alternate history efforts. The reader is given a strong sense of this universe, in terms of differences and similarities alike. The groundwork is laid skillfully enough as to not feel like the laying of groundwork, a task whose difficulty is often significantly underestimated.

So you’ve got a setting – what about a story? Goodwater does great work in coming up with a compelling narrative to go along with his engaging setting. There’s a spy thriller vibe throughout that is a lot of fun to experience, particularly when you add the fantasy elements. He captures not just magical excitement, but also the all-too-human aspects of spycraft; even the glimpses of the bureaucratic machine are surprisingly effective.

All this, plus it leaves the door open without feeling unsatisfyingly open-ended – another difficult balance to strike.

“Breach” is pure speculative adventure, a legitimately fun read. Magic and espionage make a fine match; add them to a Cold War setting and you’ve got something that leaves the reader eager for more. The worst part of the entire experience is the knowledge that you’ll have to wait for the next one.
Was this review helpful?
Good morning and happy Thursday! Today I'm sharing my newest journey into different book genres with my review of the debut historical fantasy novel, Breach by W. L. Goodwater. In a reimagining of the Berlin Wall, Breach proposes a world where the wall was created after the war out of magic rather than a physical wall. Bringing a clever twist on an historical event, Breach is grounded in a real scenario, but with an entirely new take on history--an urban fantasy based in magical realism. This is a great entry into the fantasy genre!

There are men who are unknown because they are effusive, and men that are unknown because no one noticed them. Breach proposes the notion that the latter is more powerful. I found the dynamics of who is behind this breach in the wall and what it means in a time of war and in a time where magic is only partially accepted as a reality that must be captured to be fascinating! Karen is a young magician who has been somewhat cast aside by men her whole life. Having Karen as our lead was quite powerful. It is people like Karen, who are constantly brushed aside that may wield the true power to change the world.

I loved the way the magic was described here. Throughout the book is a conversation about magic and it's true mechanism. Most magicians do a lot of incantations and hand waving. But Karen proposes a lesson she once learned that all of that may not be needed. It is a way to help the magician focus, rather than a requirement for performing magic. And focus is the key to implementing magic. Magicians wear a locus around their necks, and it is a symbol near to their heart that helps them channel their magic. As a magical researcher, Karen enters the book trying to channel her magic towards healing. And because of this pureness to Karen's desires, Karen may be the only character who could have been sent to investigate the breach in the wall and save the warring people.

One aspect to this book that was compelling was the notion of an unforgivable, dark side to magic. Not all magic is good, just as not all magicians are good. But magicians are left to operate according to a code of honor that must be upheld for magicians to remain helpful and not destructive. Of course, there are always those tempted to cross over to the dark side of magic. I don't want to give away too much, but suffice it to say that this was one of the most fascinating aspects of this book for me.

The last scene was outstanding! I can't say more, but get to that last scene and you'll know what I mean. In fact, the very last line of the book is still buzzing through my head, making me think about the aftermath of such an event in a whole new way. I really enjoyed my first read in the historical fantasy genre!

I read this book with two of my book besties, Berit and Jennifer. This was something new for all of us and we had a really great time discussing it! Check out their blogs for their reviews of Breach (now live!)!

Thank you to Berkley for my copy of this book to review!
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting  story of alternate history laced with magic...

This is definitely not my usual read, but it was a nice change of pace... as a child of the 70s and 80s and with a father who worked in aerospace I was always well aware of the Cold War... in fact after the age of 10 I was not allowed to go inside my father’s work, in case I were a Russian spy not even sure if I’m allowed to say this...  They might have to kill me😉

This book was set after WWII in Germany, it took me a while to figure out exactly when this book took place...  I’m not even sure how important this is? But because this is not my usual genre I was a little fixated on it.... so sometime after WWII  and the Berlin wall being erected... but this is no ordinary wall, it is a wall built of magic.... it is a wall that is hiding something and keeping the peace.... without this wall there is a chance of a possible WWIII... kind of tough to wrap your head around, especially when you witnessed the wall coming down and thought of it as being a triumphant moment...

The female protagonist in this book was fantastic, a woman fighting her way in a man’s world.... really liked Karen and I was a little frustrated when the story switched to someoneelse’s point of view... I truly would have been happy had the story Ben told Soli from her viewpoint... The magic was fascinating, however I would’ve liked a little more information on the magic system... but seeing as though the characters themselves weren’t entirely clear on the magic, I guess it is understandable that I wasn’t either.... The last 25% of this book was pretty much nonstop action with lots of magic, and the ending.... a bit of a cliffy.....

All in all a good book a definite detour from my regular reads....

*** many thanks to the team at Berkley Publishing for bringing this book to my attention and for the copy ***
Was this review helpful?
What a great story! I loved Breach, A new twist on The War, Germany, Britain, France, American. The wall, a magical wall. They are trying to stop World War lll from happening. An original plot with well thought out characters with genuine personalities. I loved Karen, Jim and Arthur. I enjoyed this Authors writing and am looking forward to his next book.

I give Breach 5 stars for its original content and great story.
I would recommend this book to everyone.
Was this review helpful?
Breach is a fantastic alternate history book that takes on the Cold War era, specifically the Berlin Wall. I was floored by the concept that the Berlin Wall was one created out of magic. It just put a whole new twist on history and actually made me want to research and learn more about our actual history during the Cold War.

The book's main character is a head-strong, opinionated, caring, funny woman. I found her to be a fully-developed character that faced challenges based on her being a woman - which is certainly an identifiable trait for most woman today. And it was refreshing to see her stand up against some of those pig-headed chauvinistic men. Sadly, she is the only woman in the book. The rest of the cast of characters is rounded out by men -varied men, but still men.

I enjoyed the book immensely and the concept of why the wall was created and what it hides. And I look forward to reading more in this world and seeing the repercussions of the wall falling and magic seemingly becoming more important to western countries.
Was this review helpful?
This fantasy novel is a terrific mix of Cold War intrigue and magic.

In the alternate world of the book, Berlin is divided, not by a physical wall, but by a magical one, and the United States and Russia are engaged in a Cold War that involves the talents of magical practitioners, an area where Russia has the edge. Karen, an American magician, is sent to Berlin when the wall develops a breach with orders to try to fix it. Nobody wants the wall to fall, given the potential for war to erupt if it does. That includes the Russians, who send their own operative, a man code named Nightingale, to do whatever is necessary to make sure the wall stands. What Karen finds is a city where no one can be trusted, even supposed allies, and a magical crisis that goes deeper than the failing wall. Because it turns out that the wall has a purpose that goes beyond separating the East and the West, and its fall could lead to a disaster for both sides.

The story is told from a variety of viewpoints, but Karen is the lynchpin of the action. As both a magician and a consultant to the CIA, she's a woman in a man's world. I cheered every time she took on the sexist jerks that surround her, which of course happens a lot. And although she is frequently dismissed by them, Karen ultimately bests the men at their own game, doing more than they ever thought possible.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because part of the fun of reading the novel is the twists and turns that it takes as agents of the different countries with a stake in Berlin attempt to come out on top in the search for a particular magical item that promises power to whoever holds it. But, just when you think it’s all over, that ending! Maybe I should have seen it coming, though.

This book is the first in the series, and I’m hoping to see more of Karen and Jim, one of the CIA agents Karen works with, in future volumes. I’ll definitely be looking out for the next one.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Breach was a wild ride. It took me a while to get into it, but I'm glad I pushed through the slow beginning (which could totally have been due to my currently-on-the-way-out-finally two month reading slump) and kept going. I read the last 70% in one sitting!

This was a crazy fun alternate history historical fiction magical realism urban fantasy. It's set mostly in Europe, in the city of Berlin, after the War has torn the world (and the city) apart.  Only the wall in this one is magical, impenetrable, and supposedly never coming down... until the "good guys" find a hole in the magic. Uh oh. They call for some magical support from their counterparts in the US, and the main character shows up on the scene. From there, it's a storm of spies, betrayals, magical twists, and fighting against pure evil.

I'll say, it was highly entertaining with a dash of cliche. I'd probably pick up the next one, if there's a sequel, because it was fun. I do wish the magic had been a little more developed. But hey, after that ending, there's a chance for more.

I'd say overall, good book with some great action, definitely worth a read if historical fiction with a paranormal/fantasy twist is your thing.
Was this review helpful?
A fantastic blend of history and magic. If you are looking for something new and fresh, look no further. This book throws you into a world full of magic. An incredible world where mystery and intrigue intertwine with our main character line. Its incredible really. The historical elements are spot on. Its an alternate timeline that feels like real life. Well done.
Was this review helpful?
Controversial at best, the Berlin Wall may be dividing more than a troubled city. As East and West operatives swarm like locusts, one thing has been discovered, the wall is failing, it must be shored up or the world may soon discover its true purpose…

History, politics and an alternate universe bring a magical and new level of intrigue to the Berlin Wall in W.L. Goodwater’s BREACH. Magic, magicians and government machinations will collide as one U.S. agent fights stereotyping and magical menace.

What a clever twist on history as we are invited into another world where magic prevails! Great character development, some fresh, some crusty, some eccentric, but none prepared for the truths that have been hidden! A great escape from our reality!
Was this review helpful?
Breach by W.L. Goodwater is a novel taking place in the aftermath of World War II, where the remaining powers fight with magic as well as conventional means. This book is apparently the first in a series.

A young American magician with the Office of Magical Research and Deployment named Karen O’Neil has been tasked to go to Berlin and help the CIA figure out why the Berlin Wall is starting to breach. As it turned out, the wall is made by very strong German/Soviet magic and it’s in all the governments’ best interest to keep it in tact.

For a few years now I have enjoyed novels featuring magical fantasy. I don’t read them often because I’m very picky about the genre, which is why I believe that I enjoy the few that I read.  Breach by W.L. Goodwater combines several genres which I enjoy reading about: magic, World War II, geopolitics, and espionage.

I thought this novel was very entertaining. The author managed to find a balance between telling a story and sending a message, or making a point, without hitting the reader over the head with it.

The plot has a lot of moving parts, not all of them come to an end, but I’ll chalk that up that it’s the first in a series. The characterization, I felt, was pretty good. The author introduced a lot of people, but managed to only develop a few, err on the side of length, I can only assume.

I enjoyed the world building of this alternative history book. The author got the vibe and feel of post World War II espionage novels, while giving it a new spin.
Was this review helpful?
I really gave this a chance and I rarely give up on books but I was so confused about so many things.  Maybe some background information at the beginning would help because I was intrigued by the book's concept.
Was this review helpful?
Karen is a promising magic researcher, and she is sent by her mentor to Berlin to assist`the CIA with a problem with the magic that created the Berlin Wall.  The enmity is strong between the U.S. and Russia, along with France and England, as they navigate the divisions in Berlin. The countries don't trust each other, and for that matter neither do any of the operatives.  Karen is faced with subtleties of espionage and decision-making that she feels ill-equipped for, especially after she meets a master magician from the other side who was involved with German atrocities during World War II.  This magical spy novel combines exciting action, a struggle between good and evil, with moral ambiguity. A sequel would be most welcome.
Was this review helpful?