Cover Image: Tread of Angels

Tread of Angels

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Myth: 4/5

A dark fantasy set in a world of Virtues and Fallen. The world was limiting, controlling and unfair to those obviously marked as fallen, slightly less so to those that could pass as elite. The description of this book evoked noir mystery and it definitely had that. An older sister trying to prove her younger sister’s innocence, a world set against them and plenty of harsh learnings along the way.

Magic: 4/5

There were definitely magical elements here with demon’s flying, truth telling glorias and more, but the majority of the story felt very real. It was the perfect mix.

Overall: 4/5

A compelling read, keeping me flipping pages eager to find out what happens next. I can’t say it left me feeling good, but it left me thinking.
Was this review helpful?
This was so creative with angels and demons set in a western fantasy surrounded by a murder mystery. I’m not going to lie when I read the synopsis, I was like WTH because I don’t mess with those demons, but I absolutely loved it! I was fully engaged in what was going on and Roanhorse does such a great job, as always, with the worldbuilding. I need a whole book on Celeste and Abraxas. I liked all the side characters, especially Ibrahim. I really hope we see more of this world and the characters! Overall, a very fun and engaging read.

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for the ARC!
Was this review helpful?
5 / 10 ✪

The year is 1883. Goetia is a boom town that draws the rich and poor, the ambitious and desperate, miners and prospectors, doves and demons alike in search of work, wealth, and a life to call their own. The town’s main source of income is not gold nor iron, silver nor lead, but Divinity. Goetia is a town gotten rich on mining the long dead corpses of angels and demons, fallen in the age old war that defined heaven and hell.

Celeste is a card sharp. Goetia’s native daughter, she grew up in the poorest slums but has since managed to make a name for herself, at least among some. She is also part Fallen herself, though she bears none of its marks. Something that would relieve Celeste, if not for their presence about her sister.

Mariel is a singer accused. Arrested and charged with the murder of a Virtue—law and morality enforcers who can trace their blood back to divinity as well, they despise the Fallen and their descendants purely on principle—Mariel is hauled off to a pit for execution, and it’s up to Celeste to save her. Something that may yet cost her more than just the life of her only sister.

Angels and demons, guns and dusters, corruption and ambition collide in Goetia—and it’s important to know: there are no innocents in this story.


Sadly, the mystery wasn’t terribly mysterious. As a whodunnit, it never really gets off the ground. There’s really only one person it could be and even the lead doesn’t really try to spread the blame overly long. From then it’s less of a who and more of a why. Unfortunately, this too is cleared up rather easily. Honestly, I found what happened next more entertaining than the entire mystery.

Not enough world building. The set dressing is nice enough, but the world behind is might as well be a cardboard cutout. There’s very little depth, and I’m entirely lost on much of the history and rules. Everything we know is what is told on the fly, as there’s nothing granted up front. It’s not exactly that every term or concept worth knowing has its own info-dump, however. Some things we’re just expected to figure out—but mostly, yeah, everything has its own info-dump.

Goetia reminds me of Landfall (the Boy with the Porcelain Blade). Just as Landfall is covered in a dense fog, anything outside of immediate purview in Goetia is ignored as unimportant. The outside world may as well not exist. Certainly don’t remember it being mentioned, except as a vague concept like, “I’ve stayed here too long, there’s an entire world to see”—but that’s it. I’m not getting any kind of sense of either the city or the world as a concept. They’re simply ignored unless absolutely pertinent to the story. I understand keeping the novella on track, but occasionally you can do that while giving the slightest peeks into the world beyond.

I could do without some of the references to Jesus, such as Calvary or Golgotha. In a world still reeling from an open war between heaven and hell, where angels and demons live openly alongside the humans, well, surely Jesus wouldn’t be a thing? They’re only really mentioned as descriptions, place names, but still. The story is listed as taking place in 1883—in the blurb—though this seems more about setting up the western narrative more than anything else.

Despite my criticisms of this book, I would actually be interested in seeing more of this world. Not the characters from Tread, however. I’m a fan of the angels and demons, western aesthetic. Tread of Angels reminded me quite a bit of Golgotha (from R.S. Belcher), only with a more openly biblical presence. Anyway, same concept, different story, different cast?—sure, I’m on board, let’s do this.


While I feel Tread of Angels—as a concept, at least—has promise, the novella itself came off a bit half-cocked. Actually, instead of the concept itself being solid—I’d say the proof of concept has promise. That’s because the chosen setting of Goetia falls a bit flat. It needs more world-building. Like, anything outside the story’s immediate purview. The entire outside world is ignored. I’m honestly not sure if it was entirely destroyed or just not designed in the first place. The mystery isn’t terribly mysterious, as the whodunnit quickly devolves into a whydunnit more than anything. The best thing I can really say about this is that as a read, it wasn’t bad. I moderately enjoyed the majority of the time I spent in Goetia, and while there’ll have to be a number of improvements to lure me back in the future, it is a world I would consider revisiting. But it needs work.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first time reading a Rebecca Roanhorse book. I'm not sure it was for me. I didn't dislike the writing. And the story itself was interesting. I just didn't connect with any of the characters and that made it really hard to care about what happened. The story itself was decent and I didn't hate really hate anything about it but it just did not do it for me.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 

Tread of Angels represents an intriguing pivot for Rebecca Roanhorse, this time being a historical Western fantasy mystery. There’s still an infusion of mythology in the narrative, with a basis of angels and demons. It’s a unique, somewhat odd genre combo at first, but Roanhorse executes it well. 

The setting is richly drawn, and the worldbuilding intermingling the Old West with the Angel/Demon magic is done very well. 

Celeste is an intriguing protagonist, and there’s intriguing commentary in her background as passing as an Elect, but secretly being half Fallen, and navigating a segregated society. Her relationship with her sister is impactful, especially as her sister is not able to pass, and that is the root of the trouble. 

The mystery is engaging, and I feel it works for the most part within the confines of the shorter length. It’s punchy, while also being able to be developed gradually over the space given. 

Rebecca Roanhorse rarely disappoints, and this book is no exception to that. If you enjoy historical fantasy with a strong mystery plotline, I recommend picking this one up!
Was this review helpful?
I wasn’t super impressed with this novella. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. The thing that got me was the characters. I felt like I couldn’t like or love to hate any of them. Most were just annoying and had a lot of faults. This novella is set in a Wild West-esque world many years after Lucifer’s war. People are segregated based on if their ancestry is the Fallen or the Angels (Virtues). The main character, Celeste, is a Fallen that can pass as a Virtue but rarely does because she likes to watch out for her sister, Mariel, that is marked (her eyes) as a Fallen. Mariel is accused of murder and Celeste will do anything she can to save her sister, even get help from an old flame that just happens to be a demon lord. So an interesting premise, but the characters were so unlikeable to me that I just couldn’t really enjoy it and found myself rolling my eyes far too often for such a short book.
Was this review helpful?
Roanhorse is a fine fantasy writer: an imaginative world-builder and teller of compelling stories. In this novella she gives us a fabulous new world - if there isn't already a subgenre called divinity-punk, then there is now.

The actual story, on the other hand, seems a little rushed. Seldom do I wish a fantasy novel was longer (the genre leans toward bloat), but in this case more plot and character development would have been a good thing. I found the main character to be narcissistic - she tears through the book systematically using and alienating everyone she knows and supposedly loves, and a little more grounding to show how she even made any friends in the first place would have been good. The plot also seems a bit rushed.

In many ways this reads like one of those "prequels" that introduces a character and sets the stage for the main series, and I hope that's the case here. I would certainly come back for more of this world.
Was this review helpful?
How does Rebecca Roanhorse do it?  Her skill and creativity are like a constantly replenishing fountain or an underground spring and what bubbles up is consistently magical, unique and unexpected.  This time she has served up a Western noir novella featuring the eternal faceoff of angels and demons in the mining town of Goetia.  The battle has been won long ago, leaving a deep schism between the Elect, those zealously aligned with the angels and the ruling power structure, and the Fallen, who have ringed eyes, special talents, limited futures, and largely inhabit the poorer, shadier, parts of town.  They also are able to detect mining lodes, which power technology and invention in Goetia; of course, the mines are owned by the Elect, who largely despise the Fallen.

It is also the tale of two Fallen sisters, of the dependence and decadence of one, and the fierce loyalty and paternalism of the other.  Mariel is a gifted songbird belting out numbers and frequently taking a belt or something stronger in an infamous bar on Perdition Street where her watchful sister Celeste, is a dealer at a farro table.  Celeste, whose eyes resemble an Elect, has her own ghosts and secrets, among them her former lover Abraxas, a captivating demon who collects favors and souls.  But when Marial is accused of murder and mutilation, and the murder is of an Elect Virtue member, the militaristic Order of Michael soldiers bear her away.  Celeste and the other Fallen know, after a sharm trial, she is destined for execution.

The trial will be an examination into Marial’s “spiritual fitness.”  But the odds of heaven and earth are stacked against her.  According to Abraxus, Celeste’s philosophy-loving demon, “The Virtures are sanctimonious, but they make a fine point.  If she is Fallen, she is sinful by fault.  There is no innocence in her making.” Celeste, convinced of her sister’s blamelessness must somehow gain entry to the heavily guarded Elect courthouse where Marial is being held, and pass tests with holy water and logic.  And yet, Mr. Ibrahim, the shifty head of the order of the justice Keepers, appoints her as Marial’s defender, which comes with its own deadly trial of sorts; she has less than 48 hours to prepare her case. 

As with any cracking good noir story, things quickly get more gummy and complex the more Celeste starts to uncover, even with the help of Abraxus and an unspecified bargain.  As Celeste explores the roots of this killing, she is led to news hungry reporters, discoveries about conflicts and power struggles within the mines, and to the identity of the murdered Virture.  She also finds assumptions, personalities, and allegiances changing faster than a deck of marked cards.  

The courtroom tests of truth will leave you with your heart in your mouth, though in this case it’s a lethal golden mechanical insect, the Gloria, wielded by the Virtues, who use it to compel truth from the speaker. But Celeste has another plan…  So what is on trial here, as in any top-notch noir novel, are the many shades of grey, of equivocation and circumstance, as the storyline unfolds.  And the ending delivers the force of a sudden rockslide: unpredictable and upsetting, veined with characteristic noir cynicism.  It is well-earned and utterly absorbing. 

There is not a wasted word in this exquisite novella, Ms Roanhorse has paired the narrative to the essentials, and still it shines. Recommended for those who like mashups by a master and those who get smitten by a perfectly crafted story.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this short novel! It is set in a town that sort of reminds me of a Gold-Rush Era western city meets Old Las Vegas, which I am here for. The main character, Celeste, is determined to solve a murder that was pinned on her sister before her sister is executed by the town leaders, who happen to be Angels. The whole setup of the world pits Angels versus the Fallen, and of course, the Fallen are considered "less than", which obviously shows a lot of parallels to our own society.

I was worried that the world building would confuse me, especially when laid out in such a short number of pages, but I really didn't have much trouble deciphering it. While I think there is a lot of room to delve deeper (which seems like the plan for subsequent books, though I am not sure), it was also fairly easy to follow. I also really enjoyed the characters, and how wonderfully flawed they are. Celeste herself often refuses to acknowledge her own blind spots and biases until she is forced to face them head on. I loved how realistic they all felt, especially in a matter of two hundred pages.

I really hope that this becomes a series, because I absolutely need more time with these characters, and exploring this very creative and intriguing world! It was faced-paced and I really could not put it down, excited to find out all the answers. I also loved how the author infused bits of humor into this otherwise rough world and situation.

Bottom Line: Exciting and well-constructed, I simply devoured this genre-defying mystery!
Was this review helpful?
This is a bit of a change of pace for Rebecca Roanhorse, and I really enjoyed it! It's got elements I like and it came together for me pretty nicely. This is a fantasy western murder mystery with angel and demon mythology, in this case being used for commentary on race. It's not a combination I would have come up with but I think it really works.

Celeste could pass as Elect (those descended from angels) but is actually half Fallen (if you guessed this is those descended from demons, you would be correct). Unsurprisingly, society is segregated along these lines with the Elect being at the top. She works at a gaming house, along with her visibly Fallen sister who she would do anything to protect. So when her sister is arrested for the murder of a Virtue (the highest class of Elect), all bets are off and Celeste is even willing to work with the demon who broke her heart to prove her sisters innocence.

This is quite a short novel and I might have liked it to be a bit longer, but overall I enjoyed my time in the world, liked the mystery, and found it to be quite satisfying. Worth a read if it sounds up your alley! I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
"Tread of Angels" by Rebecca Roanhorse is a fast paced fantasy story set in a land of angels and demons and those in between.  When Celeste's beloved sister is accused of murder, Celeste knows she will do whatever it takes to prove her innocence, even if it means putting herself in danger.  I was sucked into the world the author created  from the very first page and finished this short novel in just two hours.  While it was an entertaining read, I was left wanting more, particularly from the ending, which was fairly predictable.  I think the book would've been better if it had been longer; I would have loved more details about the characters and the very interesting world in which they lived.  I felt like I was reading a book that was part of a series, and that I hadn't started with the first book.  I needed more world-building.  Overall, this was just an average read for me and i don't think it will make any lasting impression on my mind.

I do appreciate the opportunity to read an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and I thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for this opportunity.
Was this review helpful?
I've read The Sixth World books and the Between Earth and Sky books by Rebecca Roanhorse and loved them all. I can't wait for further books in those series. When I saw that she had a novella coming out I requested it from Netgalley and was happy to be approved. 
Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this novella. It felt rushed and a bit confusing, and like a lot of characters had no back story that gave them any meaning. I may also not be the right audience for stories with fallen angels and demon lords who are supposedly sexy - it's not usually a subgenre I go for so that's on me. 

I did see that the author wrote on Instagram (in a story so its probably gone now) that this novella actually has a slightly different ending in the published version than it did in the ARC. I read the ARC so I'm curious if my opinion would change if I read the final published version. But i had to force myself to finish this so I probably won't go read the final version.
Was this review helpful?
Tread of Angels is a short novel by Rebecca Roanhorse. This novel(la?) follows the story of Celeste and her sister who has been accused of murder. In this world we have the Elect (angels) and the Fallen (decedents of the fallen angels). Celeste and her sister are Fallen, though Celeste can pass as an Elect due to her mixed heritage and lack of facial markings. 

As I am writing this I realize there’s an analogy that can be made between people of color and the Fallen. Celeste is like a person of color that can pass as white due to lucky genetics. 

There’s also an undercurrent about relationships, who we become within our family systems, and who we want to be if allowed to be ourselves. 

Overall, it was too short to really delve into the concepts being introduced; Elect, Fallen, pieces of divinity, demons, etc.
Was this review helpful?
'Tread of Angels' has everything I like: fantasy western setting, a whodunnit plot, sibling dynamics, just enough romance to intrigue and et in a world of angels and demons. As I was reading I kept thinking of the 2010 film Legion, especially when it came to the depiction of angels/demons and their hierarchies. I also really enjoyed our main character Celeste and her dedication to her sister. It seems like a classic set up but there were plenty of twists to keep you guessing. And it's not found family so much as found enemies? Celeste is complicated and I love her. 

At first I was excited to see it was novella length but I think the story would have done well to be a tad longer. The reveal of the whodunnit might have been a bit more powerful with some extra time to really connect to the character(s). That's really the only thing stopping me from giving it a five star. I really enjoyed it and hope for more set in this world. Rebecca Roanhorse is steadily becoming one of my most dependable auto-buy authors. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Gallery Books- Saga Books for an advanced copy of the this fantasy novel set among the angels and demons of the wild west.

Older siblings have a responsibility to younger siblings. An older sister or brother needs to make sure that there younger charges don't make the same mistakes they made, don't fall in love with the wrong person, and to keep the mean old outside world away, with all its temptations and teases. And when the youngest sibling is accused of murder, murder of a ruling class that happens to be angels, well you go all out to get them free no matter what the Heavens might throw at you. Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse is a fantasy set in an alternate world with demons and angels existing among humans who are both innocent and touched be sin, but all trying to get by.

Celeste is a Keno dealer at a local watering hole in the town of Goetia, Colorado in the year 1883. The town is a mining town, with the only thing coming out of the ground being an ore called Divinity. Celeste is quick with a card, her knife, her tongue and even quicker with her anger especially when it comes to her sister Mariel, as singer at the same place. The town is a tad rough, with both itinerant miners, descendents of demons called the Fallen, good people known as the Elect, and the leaders and elite of the town, Angels known better as Virtues. Celeste can pass as a member of the Elect, Mariel can not so spends her time singing in run down bars, under Celeste's watchful eye. Until Mariel wakes up with a dead Virtue next to her, covered in its blood, and arrested for the crime. Being Fallen, means that the decision is already made, Mariel is guilty. Celeste must find away to clear her sister, while learning new things about a town that she thought she knew everything about. 

A different kind of fantasy novel with characters and creatures that are new and different, and exciting to learn about. The world unfolds gradually, sometimes a little too much, and it might take a few pages until the reader goes, ohh I get it. However the writing is so good and the ideas so different that I am glad there was no info dump, as you get a better sense of the characters and what they have to deal with all their lives. Thought the book is not long, quite a lot happens in it, and I admit that I am part of the chorus that would have liked a longer story, just to learn more about the town, and the world that it takes place in. The characters are well developed, the angels carry their eliteness well and the demons that we meet do act like demons. Celeste is a well written character, thought you forget she has a bit of demon blood in her, until she starts acting a little evil.

A very good story, one that I would like to see more of, though I don't want this taking away from Roanhorse's Between Earth and Sky series, as I am a huge fan of that and very selfish. A promising introduction to what could be a very good, very big new series.
Was this review helpful?
"Celeste, a card sharp with a need for justice, takes on the role of advocatus diaboli, to defend her sister Mariel, accused of murdering a Virtue, a member of the ruling class of this mining town, in a new world of dark fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse.

The year is 1883 and the mining town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity from the high mountains of Colorado with the help of the pariahs of society known as the Fallen. The Fallen are the descendants of demonkind living amongst the Virtues, the winners in an ancient war, with the descendants of both sides choosing to live alongside Abaddon's mountain in this tale of the mythological West from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse."

Since I read Black Sun I've been interested what else Rebecca Roanhorse had up her sleeves.
Was this review helpful?
unfortunately i did not vibe with this sorry to rebecca roanhorse who i love. this just felt more cliche then i was interested in reading. i love tropes i am not anti trope i just wasn't connecting with it here
Was this review helpful?
While the concept of the fantasy world in this book was certainly interesting ( a sort of western-inspired industrial-age society with angels instead of humans), I think the short format really diminished the quality of the world-building. There simply wasn't enough of it to make the world feel believable. 

Additionally, the plot of the book was oversimplified in order to fit into the length of the book, and therefore, it lacked tension. It also wrapped up far too simply and easily, with what felt like a totally random twist coming in at the last second to tie up all the loose ends. 

The cast of characters was interesting and varied, but again, the book was so short that none of them were developed over the course of the story, and many of them were two-dimensional because they didn't have the space to be properly characterized.

Overall, the premise was fine, but this should've been a novel rather a novella.
Was this review helpful?
I love Roanhorse's characters and world-building, so I immediately fell into this slim, pacy novella. The action is present from page one, and doesn't let up as Roanhorse builds a compelling drama. This story gives the energy of a CW paranormal drama—themes that might be a little too obvious but plots and characters engaging enough to keep you hooked. There was little nuance in this story of the blessed and the damned, but I was hooked until the bittersweet end. A really fun, quick read from an author who I look forward to reading more from.
Was this review helpful?
I loved Black Sun from the very first line. I don't intend to compare Roanhorse's works to each other for no reason, but they are within the same genre and should be a testimate to the growth in her writing. I didn't love Tread of Angels after the first line, the first page, or the first chapter. I went in with zero expectations but I can't help but feel like this isn't the same prose potential that Roanhorse demonstrated in the series that made me such a huge fan. I'm reading this rather slowly instead of quickly under the sheets of my covers. I don't think about it when I have other things to do. I can't tell you much about the characters as this point, by the content I have and have yet to read and whether I find them memorable or not. I feel as though this was written before Black Sun even if it was published after. I will update my review with final thoughts once I finish.
Was this review helpful?