Angelfall: Penryn & The End of Days, Book 1 by Susan Ee

I’m not entirely sure why I was drawn to this book. As much as I’m fascinated by angels, most fiction about them tends to be fairly limited. Many have remarked they are this generation’s vampire, and that’s true to a certain extent. Like zombies, mermaids, and vampires, there are just too many of the same stories, many of them trying desperately to stand out by being different, and failing precisely because these beings aren’t supposed to be different from what they’re meant to be.

With this in mind, I went through this story anyway. The first 2/3 or so is pretty basic. The “rules” of angelkind are honored, which is a plus for me having studied angelology for a number of years. It means that nephalim are the big warning about what happens if there’s an angelic romance with a human, and it means the characters in the story are abhorred by this idea. Also, they have reason enough not to trust one another, so it makes for a far more believable story. There’s very little about this story that’s particularly earth-shattering. If you’re familiar with the Christopher Walken Prophecy movies, you’ll be right at home here.

There are two standout moments for me. The first is the (no pun intended) that this whole thing is kicked off when Gabriel comes to earth and is shot by the fearful humans. I’ve never seen this approach before, and I totally buy it. It’s something we monkeys would do. The second is the climax when we find out what the angels are doing with the humans they capture. I think this is supposed to be a nod to Clive Barker’s rather disturbing prose style and twisted imagination. Most can’t pull it off, and while the author is outclassed by this example (who isn’t, let’s be honest), she is successful enough to make you squirm with her descriptions. Kudos on that.

On the whole, I’m not drawn in enough to want the rest of the series right now, but this was a fun read all the same. I may eventually come back to it, but I’m not that invested. That’s probably because I could care less about post-apocalyptic stories, although to be fair, this story works better precisely because of that setup. The characters are solid enough to be believable, though we could see the archangel Raphael a mile away the moment the name was mentioned, so there wasn’t much of a reveal there. I love the concept of the insane mother fighting her own inner demons in the middle of all this. I feel like there were some missed opportunities here as well, and some inadequate explanations about a great many things. Maybe that’s left for the sequels? Time will tell.

One point of mention… this is a self-published title, and that rarely works out this well. This writer understands something about editing, story pacing, and such, and has paid attention to examples she’s studied and enjoyed. You just don’t see that much. So, more kudos. On the whole, far better than expected from angelic YA fiction, but still not as powerful as the potential of the genre could be. It’s early in the series, so we’ll see what happens.

3 stars

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