Science fiction and fantasy
Blood And Feathers
by Lou Morgan
Alice is mentored by Mallory and Vin, a couple of likeable and flawed Earthbound angels. They are under a kind of suspended sentence, with their wings clipped for past misdemeanours. The dialogue between these characters is snappy, and I enjoyed the way Alice gives cheek to anyone, no matter their status. This novel is very much a "chosen one" story though, and that concept comes with certain drawbacks. Early on we're introduced to Alice's emerging powers, which she can't fully control to begin with. The problem I find with this format is the way it relegates the chosen to the status of a somewhat passive beneficiary or victim of fate, and as readers we know the emerging powers are expected to blossom into super-awesome magical nukes of some kind, so it seems undeserved. And to begin with Alice does seem to be a passive character who responds to events more than she imitates them. She also tends to scream and black out rather a lot. As a character she does eventually get it together and show some spine, and she does have that sharp tongue, but I did spend some time wondering how long it would take Alice to fight back.
Most of the story is told from Alice's point of view, but not all of it. The plot is a tangle of characters keeping secrets from each other, interspersed with colourful horrors. The Fallen are a pretty wicked bunch, but there's always a suggestion that they might not be as bad as they're made out to be. It's a well-crafted story that had me eagerly turning pages. I enjoyed the landscape of Hell and the freakish world of the angels. Their version of justice seems violent and abrupt, and for me that didn't fit well with the idea that these were ancient beings whose rivalries and friendships could have built up and worn down over centuries.
Blood And Feathers may present and unusual take on heaven and hell, but it's not what I would consider an unconventional novel. It is fast-paced, modern and accessible, with spicy dialogue and interesting characters. It wears its themes of faith, hope and sacrifice lightly.
21st November 2013
If you like this, try:Angelfall by Susan Ee
When a teenager's little sister is abducted by angels, she sets out on a journey across an apocalyptic wasteland to retrieve her. Book one in the Penryn and the End of Days series.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Miriam Black can see how people will die, but her gift is a curse if she can't change anyone's fate.
John Constantine, Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross by Mike Carey
John Constantine loses his memory in this contemporary occult graphic novel.
Review © Ros Jackson