(Today’s author: Tim Powers)
Tim Powers is one of those authors who doesn’t exactly fit the standard criteria. Yes, it’s sort of fantasy; yes, it’s sort of modern fantasy, or sort of historical fantasy; and yes, there’s a sort of urban fantasy feel to his stuff. On the other hand, most authors don’t meticulously interweave historical accuracy in with the fantastic elements, and Tim Powers does. Read The Stress of Her Regard and you will totally buy the idea that the history of literature is the history of vampires, at least while reading it; and we are so conditioned now to accept that Voudon goes along with piracy* that we forget that this was first suggested by On Stranger Tides*.
If that hasn’t scared you away yet, good: because you’ll want to read Declare. This book involves three themes: the Catholic Church; the Cold War; and the secret occult origins and sustenance of the Soviet Union – with the last being treated in much the same way that modern fantasy treats the occult trappings of Germany’s Nazi regime. The book is written in a very classic Cold War spy fiction style: Len Deighton would have loved it (by the way, his SS-GB is one of the classics of the alternate history genre). So check it out.
*Pirates of the Caribbean
of course has helped, and the book in question will be enjoyed by people who liked the first movie (which was profoundly worth liking).