The Kitchen Brigade


Worth reading 😎

A former USA government official's daughter helps mobilize a fitting resistance movement from the kitchen in this timely dystopian novel.

Women placed in the kitchen turn out to be quite dangerous in Laurie Boris' The Kitchen Brigade--a smart, subversive dystopia about chefs planning a revolution while plating dessert. The USA is in the midst of another Civil War (this time the secessionists are the New Confederacy and their largest militia is the horrifyingly-named America First Army); in all the chaos, Russia takes over the Eastern Seaboard under the guise of a peacekeeping mission. The secretary of state, along with most of the government, has been assassinated, but his daughter Valerie survives in the Hudson Valley. Valerie's culinary institute training lands her a prominent position in the house of the enemy: sous-chef for the powerful Russian General Grigori Alexandrov.

Working for the general involves managing a life full of high-risk political intrigue, like whispering covert deals in wine cellars and learning how to convey information to resistance fighters through the arrangement of herbs on the main course. Valerie must manage not only the tough Head Chef Svetlana Bogonovskya, but also her cranky secretive adopted daughter Anya, dubbed number "Two" in the kitchen. With Valerie as the new "Three," tattooed pastry chef Four, spindly Five, and mute Six round out the team. While attempting to manage her complicated new environment, Valerie encounters a kind Cuban informant, a cruel guard who holds a lethal grudge against her father, a computer hacker in hiding, and the attractive General Nikolai Obolevsky. But who's really on which side?

This novel has some small dystopian world-building issues, mostly at the beginning when certain time shifts can be confusing for a reader who's new to the world. There's also an underutilized plot involving Valerie's brother Etienne. Etienne has been separated from his family, but at the novel's opening, he reenters the USA disguised as a Russian in order to spy on the enemy. The plot flips back and forth expertly between the siblings for a bit, but then Etienne unfortunately drops out of the narrative for long stretches of time. Despite these slight criticisms, Boris' novel is absolutely worth a read, particularly for the moments involving Valerie trying to protect the young son of her family's former housekeeper. Even though Valerie was wealthy before the outbreak of the war, she's always compassionate to the underprivileged and critical of those in power. That's an important lesson to learn if we don't want our future to look like this one.

Reviewed by

Co-Founder of The Haint
Batavia Public Library Tech/Reference Assistant
Literary Agent Assistant at Barbara Braun Associates, Inc.
Personal Assistant to Marilyn Stasio at the NYTBR
Book Review Editor for KGB Bar Lit Mag
Business Manager of Columbia Journal
MFA in Fiction, Columbia U

About the author

Laurie Boris has been writing fiction for almost thirty years and is the award-winning author of eight novels. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she’s a freelance copyeditor and enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework. view profile

Published on January 10, 2019

90000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Dystopian

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