The Watchers by Jon Steele

I really wanted to love this book. I have a weird fascination with angels, and I love to see them in stories that aren’t cookie cutter romances. Building a story off the Book of Enoch? You have my attention, but I’m looking to see if you can bring anything new to the table. This one didn’t.

I also don’t mind a slow burn with character development when it’s done well and pacing is considered. Give me a reason to want to continue. The audiobook for this is nearly 22 hours long, and quite literally nothing happens for two thirds of it. I can’t blame the narrator. Jonathan Davis is a narrator I’m quite familiar with, having had him along for the majority of the Star Wars audiobooks over the years. He’s fantastic. After that long of a setup, there needs to be more than just atmosphere and setting. As realistic as it feels (which is a selling point), the accompanying choppy writing style should serve to move things along and convey a sense of urgency and storytelling. In this case it was like being stuck in traffic: hit the gas, hit the brake after 20 feet. I experience that twice a day as it is and listen to audiobooks to escape that sensation.

The other part of the problem is character. Using archetypes is a great idea for storytelling, but when you develop them, that development should actually go somewhere. I got to know these characters. They live and breathe like my next door neighbors. And like my next door neighbors, I didn’t really care about any of them because nothing interesting happens for the bulk of the story. By the time the starting gun fires, the audience is too asleep to hear it. To make things worse, I’ve seen these characters before, all of them written better, by Victor Hugo. It’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with angels. Why didn’t it work? Because Victor Hugo is an acknowledged master, and everyone knows the story even if they haven’t read it. That I have read it just really makes me want to go back and read it again because (just like with movies) I find most remakes to be lazy and largely intolerable. Don’t tell someone else’s story. The good ones are there to revisit in all their glory, and the bad ones don’t deserve a second chance. Tell your own story.

Because I do see potential here now that the setup is out of the way, I will likely return for book 2 of this trilogy, someday. I feel like now that the Hunchback section of this story is told poorly, perhaps we can move on to something more worthy. If it proves to be more of the same, I’ll just drop it in favor of the next title.

2 stars


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