Bitter Seeds

Bitter Seeds - Ian Tregillis Bitter seeds is an alternate history retelling of World War II, in which the Germans have scientifically engineered supersoldiers with incredible abilities. One can make himself invisible, pass through walls and avoid bullets, one is a human torch able to produce fire at will and others have superstrength and precognition. These special soldiers are orphans and test subjects the result of decades-spanning science experiments by a deranged Nazi scientist. The process by which these supersoldiers are created is only touched on, a barbaric upbringing through childhood during which many perished, to be discarded as nothing.
The English answer is a group of characters whose abilities exist under the basic framework and knowledge of society, Warlocks, blood magic practitioners. Warlocks speak an ancient language called Enochian, a primal language that is used along with various forms of sacrifice, to communicate with the Eidolons, beings that exist outside of reality. The Warlocks negotiate with the Eidolons and they in turn aid them in the war effort but each bargain struck is at a terrible cost, a cost of blood.
The story’s apparent villain, although only because she is one of the re-engineered Germans is Gretel, whose superpower is an ability to see the future. She is a character whose motives are always in doubt, and whose foreknowledge is pivotal as the plot progresses. She is also an apparent sociopath who plays both sides with little or no concern for the lives lost, its a game to her and she has her own agenda. A fascinating and mysterious character, even at the end of the book we have no idea what she's up to.
The two main protagonists are Brits Raybould Marsh, a secret agent, and William Beauclerk, a friend of Marsh and unbeknownst to him a warlock. When Marsh discovers the Germans’ secret weapons, he turns to his old friend for help. Will is the more interesting of the two characters the only warlock who seems to have any reservations for what they do, expressing constant remorse and eventually succumbing to drugs and alcohol, the only way he can cope with what they have done. Marsh to suffers horrific loss and treads a painful journey, his coping mechanism is to throw himself into the war effort but I thought him slightly inaccessible as a character.

Seems a touch unpatriotic but for me the most compelling of the novel's characters were Gretel and her brother Klaus, whose understanding and conscience slowly emerge through the book and yet we realize Gretel is as much a mystery to him as to us.
Bitter seeds is an original take on this period of history, the opposing factions are not so easily tied into the good versus evil formula, in fact in this respect the waters are not clear but somewhat murky.
Certainly an enjoyable read, some good ideas and I shall definitely continue with the series.