Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Blood And Feathers

by Lou Morgan


I've never seen the appeal of goody-two-shoes angels. Fortunately, Blood And Feathers is full of that other kind. Whether they're the Fallen, the disgraced Earthbound, or the regular type, the angels in Lou Morgan's first novel are slackers, schemers, arrogant jerks, or all-out gits.

This is a modern day re-imagining of the war between Heaven and Hell, a war which has been raging for centuries. Alice finds herself thrust into the middle of it when two men appear at her home. In the violence of a few moments she's ripped away from her old life as a librarian, and everything she ever thought she knew about herself and her family is pulled away. She becomes a fugitive, running from the Fallen who want to drag her down to Hell. At the same time people are going missing without trace, and Hell seems to be working on something that will tip the balance of the conflict firmly in the Fallen's favour.

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

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books

    Female Protagonist  

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