The most difficult thing about writing a book about angels is doing something different that separates you from the crowd. In this case, the “something different” is simply keeping them in context instead of sparkling them up and making them all cutesy for modern audiences like their vampire or mermaid counterparts. The angels and their Nephalim spawn are given to the audience wrapped in a sense of both wonder and terror. Suffice to say, I approve.
Trussoni’s story is told largely in terms of discovering secrets, unveiling them not just a little at a time, but in large swaths that serve to drive the story forward and propel the sense of mystery. The best way I can describe it is this: imagine if Dan Brown’s storytelling and depth of character actually rose to the level of his punchy prose style. I pick on Brown mercilessly for just that reason, but I still like the style he tries to tell. Trussoni succeeds for the most part in keeping the pages turning, though she doesn’t use a breakneck speed to do it. The quality of her prose is thoughtful and unrelentingly beautiful at times, reminding me quite a bit of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. The styles are similar at times, but not… if that makes sense. Trussoni’s depth of character is nothing less than impressive. You get to know the main characters very well, and even those secondary and tertiary characters become a rich part of the tapestry that is weaved here. For a debut novel, it’s convinced me she’s one to watch. If they could keep the prose of the narration, this would make a fantastic movie (and yes, the book will still be better).
I read this in hardback first a while back, not really expecting much (it is angel fiction, after all), and I had a lot of fun with it. It was a guilty pleasure when I picked it up because I do actually enjoy angelology as a subject matter. At the time I finished it, a little thing about the endgame bugged me, but I let it go because it ultimately served the story. And what a story it was! The second time through via Audible, same thing, but I was having too much fun to care. The audiobook serves to make that endgame more urgent, whereas the book almost encourages you to take your time with it. Funny how that works. I won’t spell it out as it is spoilerific, and hopefully you won’t be asking “what if” questions when you get there.
The question I will ask that’s only a minor spoiler to the backstory is this: if a Nephalim survived the flood by disguising himself as Noah’s son, wouldn’t God and the Archangels have noticed this? Admittedly by asking this, it reveals a whole house of cards that should rightfully come crashing down, but again, it serves the story, so I just let it go. I’m glad I did. And theologically you can having fun explaining it from a Gnostic POV even if you can’t explain it from a Catholic or Protestant POV. I love novels that make me chew on the big questions and see things from a completely different perspective.
As narrator, Susan Denaker is absolutely amazing. Not only does she give different voices to the various characters, she brings a full-scale performance from beginning to end. Her accents are enough to sell it without being over the top, and the personalities she brings to the characters… well, she clearly had a lot of fun with this despite (or perhaps because of?) the seriousness of the tale. This is my first book with her narrating, and I look forward to seeing if she’s just as enthusiastic with her other deliveries.