Fall from Grace

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Sep 2017

Member Reviews

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher *
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The Archangel of Secret Knowledge has been released from his long imprisonment in Hell and now has one major task - to free his brethren from their infernal imprisonment

 But occupying a body - a life, a family - that is not his own comes with its own guilt and complexities; how do you explain to a mortal brother that you are trying to free demons from hell?

 Especially when that mission becomes far more complicated, with more actors and manipulations with their own sinister motives than he imagined when he first found freedom.

This book has some really fascinating concepts

 Fallen angels and demons are not unknown characters in urban fantasy - but I think this is the first time I’ve seen one with this kind of outlook. Henry is neither angsting about being unworthy of god and self-flagellating; nor is he raging about an unjust most High who must pay for his dastardly deeds. He is sensibly and doggedly trying to rescue his brethren. It’s a very personal story, one very much focused on him and not on big grand themes and revelations.

 I also like Henry’s character - introverted, snarky, socially awkward but not in the arrogant-and-brilliant-way we see with so many protagonists. Just an inexperienced demon in the body of a man who was socially inept anyway. There’s a general sense with Henry that he’d much rather just be left alone with his books if he could get away with it.

 I really like the conflict over what he is - because he possessed the human Henry Black. But he has all of Henry Black’s memories - and his opinions and even his mannerisms - including Henry’s OCD. Henry Black is dead… but how much of the angel/demon occupying the body is angel/demon and how much is Henry?

 The concept of angelic power is also an interesting one - the nature of the word, the angelic inability to not speak truth and in changing reality to make it true. Divine power, the power angels can wield but cannot carry because only beings with a soul can do that. This idea that angels wield incredible power but that, ultimately, that power is human and divine and not their own. It’s a nice twist

 Henry himself is both albino and has OCD. Both are parts of his character but while mentioned do not consume him. It’s good to see a disability which doesn’t become a character’s sole defining characteristic, but at the same time I rather think the OCD in particular was brushed over. We’re told Henry has OCD but that largely manifests with a need to have everything around him neat and tidy rather than actual compulsive behaviour

Siddik is a POC but his personality and history have been somewhat wiped with his possession/amnesia. There’s another random POC policeman who doesn’t play a huge role - and no LGBTQ people. But we do have a disabled protagonist

 So why didn’t I love this book? Why did it take me so long to read? I’ve been turning this over in my head for a while now because it has so many elements I should love but, in the end, I didn’t. I found it something of a chore - and I think it comes down to it having a fairly laborious writing style. We seemed to slog our way through a lot of the text and there were a lot of explanations and activities that were just a little too abstract and theoretical and the big revelations about what was actually happening didn’t appear until the very end of this book. For a long time we had Henry Black moving to Detroit to explore the possibility of other demons escaping Hell without being summoned and then stuff happened. There’s hellfire humans I don’t entirely understand, and a secret organisation that isn’t explained until the very end of the book and a whole lot of personal drama and some other random events. 

 We also form a group of main characters here which I just don’t really understand. I mean, Phillip? Him I understand and his reaction to the revelations is perfectly natural. But why is Gray so invested? How does he know about demons running around? How is he so blase about it? And then his sister is involved - and then we have Mae? Yes I get that she’s slated to be Henry’s love interest but she absorbs and accepts what’s happening awfully quickly. Even Siddik has a layer of amnesia to prevent him developing a full characterisation, just having a convenient super power.

 I find it hard to believe that all of these people are so divorced from the conventional narrative about demons/fallen angels that they’re all this willing to accept one among them and snuggle with them on a sofa. The connection was missing in the book, the foundations for this team and, in turn, made any character who wasn’t Henry feel hollow and two dimensional

I am intrigued by this book. And now we have several revelations I believe it can go forwards and be much stronger, better paced and more solid. It’s a good opener - but just a little too much work to be a joyful read and just somewhat lacking in foundation
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This is a bold, interesting new read. Loved the world building and the writing is great. I can't wait to read the rest in the series.

*** Received ARC copy of book from NetGally.com  and Ron C. Nieto. ****
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I was drawn to this book because of the description and cover. But unfortunately so just couldn't get into it. I was confused a majority of the time. And kept having to re-read pages. I don't think I'll be following this series.
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Long, long ago, a faction of angels rebelled against Heaven and were cast out, stripped of their wings and imprisoned in Hell. They were meant to be there forever.
Now, some of them are out, escaped through means even they don't understand. The former Archangel of Secret Knowledge finds himself in possession of the mortal body - and the memories - of one Henry Black. And it's his job to figure out how to release the rest of the angels who fell.
The only problem is that he soon comes to suspect that he's not being told everything. Who are the humans who have learned to channel divine fire, and why are they hunting angels? Henry has to find allies among humans and other escaped angels, and try to find out what is going on before Hell swallows them back up again... this time for good.
This is an amazingly written story, with a completely consistent magical system and a very likeable hero. I found myself wondering about the angels' original rebellion, because Henry and the others were certainly not 'evil' as we would understand it. Henry cared about people, even those he had no reason to. I'm very, very intrigued as to where the author is taking this series.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable urban fantasy with just a hint of romance included. If you like angel or fallen angel stories, this is absolutely unmissable... and if you've never tried them, why don't you give it a go?
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I couldn't get into this book. The plot was interesting, the blurb drew me in, but the story itself was confusing. We've got fallen angel demon good guys who want to stay good guys? But wait, they're demonic bad guys. People are dying, no one can be trusted. Some obscure human cult is all up in the mix and neither heaven nor the heavenly host seems to care that anyone's been maligned and imprisoned for eternity so that can battery-power said evil cult. Yeah. I'm confused. I can't deny that maybe it's just me. But honestly, I have read A LOT of books in my time on this planet and it's rare that I run across one that I don't enjoy at least a little. I will say that I liked 'Henry'. HIs character was different and as I didn't read the prequel, I got to know him through his demon. The OCD, the genius qualities, the brother who loved him anyway all tells me he was an idiot, but still a decent human being until he wasn't anymore. That's about the only thing I enjoyed. Like I said, the plot had promise, but the execution was confusing. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. Anyone who likes fantasy/angels/demons kind of tropes should go for it because I think my objections are a failure to connect with the writing style and not any failure on the part of the author.
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