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Tread of Angels

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What a marvelous page-turner of an “Angels and Devils in the Weird West” murdeer mystery adventure! Rebecca Roanhorse does a brilliant job dropping the reader into an Old-West-That-Never-Was, a town that mines divinity as an energy-source mineral, populated by the Fallen descendants of demons and ruled by the snobbish ruling-class human Elects and their police arm, the Virtues.

In the late 1880s. a cardsharp named Celeste and her sister Mariel, an immensely talented singer, eke out a living. They’re both Fallen, although Celeste has managed to hide her outcast status. She’s also trying to forget an intensely passionate affair with a demonlord. Her world shatters when Mariel is arrested for the murder of a Virtue, and the only way to save her is for Celeste to become an untrained defense attorney, a “Devil’s Advocate” or advocatus diaboli. To make matters worse, she has only a short time, not nearly enough to investigate, and she’s managed to put herself in debt to her demon lover.

The story swept me up on the first page and didn’t let go until the surprising, ambivalent-but-satifying conclusion. I especially admired how Roanhorse plomped me into her world without big chunks of exposition. Instead, she uses character, action, and nuanced detail to construct a world as seen through the eyes of an unreliable but highly sympathetic protagonist.

Highly recommended.

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This was a short read that sets you in the world of angels and their convoluted lives. It considers "castes" or classicism even within the "perfect" world of angels, as well as what it means to let someone live their own lives, even if that isn't what you would pick for them. (The audiobook is great, FYI.)

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

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Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse is set in a remote town, Goetia, located in a mountainous area. The town is separated into two classes, the Fallen and Virtues. The Fallen are descendants of those who rebelled against Heaven. The Virtues are the haves while the Fallen are the have nots. The one thing that the Fallen have that the Virtues want is the ability to see an element called Divinity.

Celeste and her sister. Mariel, are members of the Fallen class. Celeste lived for many years passing as a Virtue but came back to Goetia to protect her sister. Mariel may not need as much protecting as Celeste believes. She manages to keep several secrets from her overprotective sister.

When Mariel is arrested for the murder of a Virtue, Celeste is asked to be the devil’s advocate in Mariel’s defense. Her ex-boyfriend, the demon Abraxas, makes an appearance to help Celeste save her sister.

In the past, Celeste left Abraxas in order to stay with Mariel. Would you give up love of one so that you don’t give up your love for family? If she stayed with the demon boyfriend, she would have to give up her soul and the love of her family.

While investigating the murder, Celeste discovers many of Mariel’s secrets. She is still willing to do a test that is like truth serum. However, if you lie then the testing implement will maim you.

Celeste wants to take a chance with the test whether Mariel has committed the crime or not. She doesn’t care what she has to sacrifice as long as Mariel is freed from prison. Is Mariel worthy of this sacrifice? Maybe or maybe not. Regardless of her worthiness, Celeste loves her enough to put herself at risk. Interesting . . . . that is definitely something to think about.

If you are a fan of fantasy or mysteries, then you might enjoy Tread of Angels. I think that the world-building is unique but with a familiar setting.

Unfortunately, if you are uptight and holier-than-thou like the church lady, you may not see the beauty of this book. I’ll be over here praying for a sequel.
I received this book from NetGalley. This is my honest review. All opinions are my own. Obviously

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Like an episode of Law and Order set in a Fantasy version of the Wild West in a world populated by Angels and Demons. Celeste's sister Mariel has been accused of murdering a celestial and its up to Celeste to represent her in court and win her freedom.

I did not enjoy this. I dislike the main character, the relationships didn't make sense, and the solutions were all too convenient. Her love interest, Abraxas was truly awful and gave nothing but abuser vibes. Honesty, most of the characters were just awful people, the kind I'm never excited to read about. The relationship between Celeste and Mariel is toxic and I never understood why Celeste is so obsessed with "protecting" her sister while knowing nothing at all about her.

While this book is not for me it may be for some. I recommend this to readers who like reading about awful things happening to awful people.

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When Celeste's younger sister is accused of murder, Celeste, the overprotective older sister, pulls every trick that she can to try to save her. However, Celeste must come to terms with the fact that the world around her is not always what she things it is and that the sacrifices she makes come with consequences.

I really enjoyed this one! It's almost murder mystery in a fantasy, celestial, western setting. There are angels and demons and a separation of communities with discrimination between the elite angel-like virtues and the demon-like fallen, which was a fun world to set this murder. I especially enjoyed how my few of the main character changes over the course of the novella as she impression of the people around her shifts. I also liked how the relationship is handled. Overall, quick and fun read!

Thank you so much to the author, Saga, and Simon Audio for partnering with B2Weird for the gifted copy!

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I love Rebecca Roanhorse's writing and the idea of a fantasy western definitely appealed to me. Unfortunately, this story didn't really work for me. I couldn't get invested in any of the characters or relationships between them. The "romance" felt forced and toxic. The sibling relationship should've been the star in this story, but we don't see that much of Celeste's sister, which made their relationship and and the big reveal feel very hollow to me. The world-building also seemed a little underdeveloped, even for a novella. I hope this book finds readers who love it, but it wasn't really for me. I still enjoy Roanhorse's writing overall and will continue to read her books though!

2.5 stars

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Rebecca Roanhorse lends her unique voice to this short but deep fantasy novella. Here, we find a mystical town full of characters from christian mythology with the powers of angels and demons balancing the scales of justice while our main character tries desperately to save her sister. The plot line is a bit like a procedural - finding a lead and following it to its end, only to end up with more questions or, at least, more confusion. I very much enjoyed the world the author built - it has (to me) the vibe of an old-timey, dusty, western town on the outer edges of something bigger. And I liked the magic system - it's very biblical and like angels and demonsy but in a way that's entertaining and doesn't make you think too hard about it. I also found the ending very satisfying in a weird way. It felt like the scales were balanced, but in a way that still made everyone miserable lmao. But in the way that they deserved.

There were things I didn't like as well: the plot line which was bare bones (I guess that's to be expected in a novella, but still, I've read novellas where the story had me enraptured), the caste system, which seemed to be race-based or at least looks-based (there's some physical marker that shows the upper/lower class difference, and I think the lower class is also darker skinned?) seemed to be a pretty shallow analysis of racism because in the end readers don't actually get any conclusions on the bias the fallen face, so I guess it seemed just sort of added in there with little follow-through. Again, maybe I am expecting too much of a novella. I also didn't love the audiobook but that's just a personal preference.

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Tread of Angels is a novella length fantasy/wild west/historical/whodunnit by powerhouse fantasist Rebecca Roanhorse. Released 15th Nov 2022 by Simon & Schuster on their Gallery/Saga Press imprint, it's 208 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback due out in 2nd quarter 2023 from the same publisher. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.

The author is one of the most lauded and peer-respected living authors (in any genre) today. This is a well written shorter form in a different subgenre than her other work. The pacing is quite a departure (because of the shorter length?), but it's engaging and readable all the same. Classism in the old west is alive and well. The races in this novel are literally angels and demons, who can (and do) hybridize with humans. Two products of these unions, sisters, are in different situations because one sister can pass in the Elect society, whilst the other sister remains with their mother in the Fallen society. When Mariel is accused and arrested for murder, wellborn sister Celeste chooses to stand with her.

The setup, essentially a murder mystery in an alt-earth setting, is well constructed. There is a lot of pithy and all-too-relevant social commentary throughout.

Four stars. Ms. Roanhorse is a talented and capable author. This wouldn't go amiss in a pleasure reading TBR list as well as a more formal analysis/literature classroom setting for secondary or post secondary instruction.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This was a quick read and enjoyable. Not as excellent as Roanhorse’s other novels but still interesting. I would recommend if you’re looking for a short read; however, be aware of naive characters. The romance subplot was also tricky to enjoy.

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Tread of Angels was a complex read for me. After putting it down I reflected on the ways that we watch folx descend into madness but never actually see it. It was a rather quick read that had the perfect pacing. I loved reading a character who believe in someone so truly that their conviction convinces the reader that there way is the only way. Roanhorse crafts a heartwrenching novella that I ran to go buy after reading the ARC.

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I enjoyed the world that was created and liked Celeste & her demon. All the other characters felt a bit flat for me. If you don't mind unahppyish endings, then the ending will suffice.

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You know when you love a story, you're utterly enraptured, and then you hate the ending? That is what happened here. Such a brilliant, fast paced murder mystery. Celeste is flawed but determined. She made compelling arguments for her sister throughout the story and her investigation was ripe with intrigue, twists, and turns. But that ending was bittersweet. I am told the published version has a different ending, so I am curious to see the changes from the e-arc to the final pubbed version.

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An immersive and surprisingly dark historical fantasy, Rebecca Roanhorse’s Tread of Angels revolves around a fairly basic mystery built with classic Western themes and tropes. But, as anyone who has read her Between the Earth and Sky trilogy can tell you, what sets her work apart is deft, thorough worldbuilding, which makes this tale feel as though it’s a part of a much larger whole, just one of the many things both good and bad happening in a much larger world, full of concurrent stories we’re just not looking directly at. (What I’m saying is, this is the sort of fully realized setting that deserves many, many sequels, spinoffs, and standalones set in its streets.

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I did e hoy this take on Angels and demons..?

I wanted to love this one more than you can imagine..I’m a big Rebecca roanhorse fan and unfortunately this didn’t do it for me..

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In the few things I've picked up from Roanhorse, I've always enjoyed that she doesn't hand hold you through the world. The story starts by dropping you into the middle of things as they are happening and it's your job to figure it out from there. A little daunting in a full novel, I will pick up Black Sun one of these days, but it's an easier buy in when with a novella.

The world building is definitely this novellas biggest strength, I imagine she has pages of notes about the world that we only see a fraction of here. It's also one of my bigger problems with it. While the plot definitely needed the brisk pace that the novella sets here, it would have been nice to have a little more time to enjoy the world that she created. Our main character spends the plot rushed and harried over the murder, and so did I because we never spent more than a few moments with any of the cool things that Roanhorse sprinkles around the world. If this is her dipping her toe in to see if anyone is interested in a Western, it was successful. She could pick up with any of the characters that she has drawn up here and I would be there just to see Goetia again.

The plot worked for me, even if it's a bit simple at times. I like a story about women willing to do what it takes to get their way and I don't mind when you can see the plot twist coming from down the pike. (Though in this instance it's less foreshadowed and more that you get beat over the head with it's inevitable approach). Celeste could be a little flat at times, but the rest of the cast is interesting enough that it makes up for it.

It's one of those books that's really good, I read the majority of it in one shot, with a lot of pieces that could have made it great.

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This slim novella packs in a lot of expertly executed worldbuilding, both evocative and efficient. I loved the alternate Western gothic setting-- it felt real and gritty despite its fantastical elements. Roanhorse uses a fascinating fantasy world in order to explore caste, family, and justice.

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In Tread of Angels Roanhorse does well at world-building without forcing a large amount simple explanation on the reader. I enjoyed the characters and the world she devised. That said I also felt as though there was a lack of deeper exploration of the characters beyond the protagonist. It felt as though there was more going on with the characters, but we didn't have time to get to them. Clearly, part of this is likely due to the novella format being shorter. If you enjoy world-building, mystery, a westernish setting and don't mind feeling as though you're missing a bit of background on some characters, this is the book for you. If you're primary draw to books are exploring and getting to know various characters, I'd recommend something else. Altogether, though I enjoyed the book and find myself hoping Roanhorse will write more within this specific world she built.

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Book review: Writer's talent shines in this fantasy novella
ASHLEY RIGGLESON For The Free Lance–Star Jan 21, 2023

When it comes to fantasy novels. I am hard to please. But Rebecca Roanhorse’s new novella, “Tread of Angels” more than delivered. I found it to be a perfect entry point into Roanhorse’s work, and I am excited to read more.

Set in a world where demons walk among us and people known as “Virtues,” dispense harsh justice, “Tread of Angels” follows a woman named Celeste who is sitting in a bar one night when a friend tells her that her sister, Mariel, is in trouble. Celeste soon discovers that Mariel, a Fallen (low caste) woman, has been accused of murder. Since the victim is a Virtue, retribution is swift and harsh, and Mariel is taken away to face trial. Celeste is convinced that her sister, who she has always known to be a gentle soul, is not guilty. And Celeste will do anything to prove her sister’s innocence. Celeste is soon appointed her sister’s advocate, and while she is assured that she need not gather evidence as the truth will out, Celeste begins to investigate the murder. As she uncovers the truth about what happened that night, she begins to realize that appearances can be deceiving, and not everything is as it seems.

“Tread of Angels” pulled me in quickly and did not let go. Roanhorse, as would be necessary with a text of this length, throws readers right into the story. And while the world building here is top notch, “Tread of Angels” is an initially confusing read, and it took me some time to get my bearings.

Once I was settled in, though, I read this novella over two fun-filled nights. Though there is a magic system in here, it is not too complicated, and the mystery at the text’s heart is guaranteed to win Roanhorse many new readers. Her morally ambiguous characters add an additional level of intrigue.

While Roanhorse clearly excels at creating a textured and multilayered world and fantastic plot, “Tread of Angels” also explores issues like caste systems and sibling relationships.

And though it initially seemed to me that Roanhorse was trying to do too much in such a small space, I left the novella aware of Roanhorse’s great skill. “Tread of Angels” was such a fun ride that it reminded me why I love reading in the first place. And I cannot wait to see what she does next.

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In an alternate 19th century American West, the town of Goetia is a prospecting center for a strange new element that’s leading to big technological advancements. But Goetian society is strictly divided by class, and two sisters raised in very different circumstances must overcome their differences when one is accused of murder.

I partially picked up this book because it's only 200 pages and I love a short fantasy read. But after reading it, I actually wish it was longer. It's trying to do so much in so few words — historical Western setting, fantasy, murder mystery — and I think all of those things fall a little short for not having time and space to develop. I hope Roanhorse returns to this world in a future book!

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