Posts Tagged With: angels

“Days of Blood & Starlight” by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight is the sequel to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone, a YA fantasy novel of angels and demons that is both chilling and unputdownable.  This post will contain spoilers from the first book, so if you haven’t read it, stop reading now.

In a parallel world to our own, the chimera are at war with the angels.  Unlike in our own heavenly mythology, there aren’t really clear-cut good guys and bad guys.  Both sides have been at war for so long that they have no collective memory of peace.  Two young lovers once imagined another way of life, but that was before the angel Akiva ordered the genocide of Karou’s entire city.  Now, Karou and Akiva are two lost souls with the power to change the world, but an unbreachable rift between them.

Akiva has returned to his position in the angel army, but killing chimera no longer feels right to him.  His disillusionment with war begins to spread throughout the angel ranks, providing a glimmer of hope.

Meanwhile, Karou has returned to the chimera and is using her power of necromancy/restoration to breathe new hope into the chimera’s fight. However, the chimera army is being led by Karou’s unscrupulous almost-ex-fiance, and Karou constantly feels unsafe among her own people.

Days of Blood & Starlight is fast-paced and suspenseful.  We see both Karou and Akiva struggling with their own beliefs, but even at their darkest moments (and there have been plenty of them so far), you can tell that neither believes that war and violence are a productive way for their peoples to move forward.  It is heartening to see both Karou and Akiva inspiring others by their example.  And the cliffhanger ending… so dramatic!  I can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy to be released so that I can see how it all comes together in the end.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, YA | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“The Dirty Streets of Heaven” by Tad Williams

I received a review copy of Tad Williams’ “The Dirty Streets of Heaven” while I was at BEA in exchange for an honest review.  I’m also reading it as part of the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VII event.

“The Dirty Streets of Heaven” is the first book  in a new urban fantasy series that combines elements of gritty noir with the supernatural.  Bobby Dollar is an angel known as an Advocate, which is the heavenly version of a lawyer.  When people die, an angel and a demon present arguments before a judge as to whether that soul should go to Heaven or to Hell.  Bobby argues for souls in the general region of San Judas, California.  However, one day souls begin disappearing before the process can take place, and when Bobby Dollar begins to investigate, he finds himself caught up in a plot that’s way over his head.

Bobby Dollar’s character makes this novel work.  He’s funny, he’s sarcastic, he’s sometimes an ass, and above all, he seems entirely human.  He likes to drink, he hangs out at the pub with his friends, and he sometimes sleeps with somebody and regrets it in the morning.  It’s not what you’d expect from an angel, but Tad Williams pulls it off incredibly well and uses it to reinforce the atmosphere that the book creates.

The minor characters are equally as vibrant.  There’s Casimira, the Countess of Cold Hands, a goth demon chick that Bobby Dollar finds irresistible, despite (or perhaps even because of) the fact that they’re working for different sides in a struggle that’s remarkably similar to the Cold War.  There’s Clarence, the rookie, who is a new Advocate who’s been sent down from the records department despite having no formal training.  Then there’s Sam, Bobby’s old war buddy turned drinking buddy, and Monica, Bobby’s ex, and the unresolved feelings between the two of them.  I appreciated the way that Tad Williams was able to give his characters believable and realistic social circles, and the characters remind you of somebody that you’d know and that you’d like to hang out with.

Despite Tad William’s excellent writing and vibrant characters, the story still lacks a certain spark of originality.  The characterization and the details are wonderful, but the whole angels and demons arguing over souls thing sounds a bit like a made for TV movie.  Mind you, I still enjoyed it, but I did wish that there would have been a bit more of a twist or a departure from tradition.

If the idea of Law & Order with angels and demons sounds interesting to you, then you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“The Fallen Queen” by Jane Kindred

I received an electronic copy of “The Fallen Queen” by Jane Kindred from the publisher through NetGalley.

The novel tells the story of Grand Duchess Anazakia Helisovna, an angel whose life story parallels that of Anastasia Romanov.  Anazakia never really understood the politics of Heaven until her entire family was murdered and overthrown at the hands of Aeval, a really bitchy queen.  Anazakia alone escaped with the aid of the demons Belphagor and Vasily, who fall with her from Heaven to Russia, where she cross-dresses to keep herself hidden.  At first, the demons and Anazakia mutually distrust each other, but as the story progresses they come to an understanding, and Anazakia starts to realize just how sheltered her life was as a Grand Duchess.

This is one of the most fun books that I’ve read in a long time.  It does have its flaws, such as the fact that Aeval isn’t very complex as a villain, but I was able to overlook that because I was so caught up in the story.  I couldn’t put the book down, and I can’t wait for the next one to be released!

The author has really done her homework as far as Russia goes.  When I read the book, I felt like I was back in St. Petersburg.  She gets everything right, from the landmarks to the culture to the tapochki.

I also enjoyed the way that the characters fall outside of traditional gender roles.  Belphagor and Vasily are an adorable gay couple, and Anazakia makes an interesting addition to their love triangle.  The characters are unapologetically themselves, which is quite refreshing in fantasy.  It bothered me that in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire that Dany could have frickin’ dragons, but poor Renly had to stay in the closet.  Part of the fun of fantasy is being able to escape traditional social structures and play with reality.  The author clearly had a lot of fun doing that, and it was a delight to read!

“The Fallen Queen” is a great escapist read, and the Russian setting makes it even more awesome.  I would highly recommend it.  Kindred’s writing reminded me of what would happen if one were to cross Jacqueline Carey with Mikhail Bulgakov.

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This book counts toward the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.

Categories: Dead Russians, Fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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