Cover Image: Tread of Angels

Tread of Angels

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Member Reviews

I have some definitely mixed feeling on this and I'm not surprised to see that early reviews are mixed as well. I really enjoyed Roanhorse's writing as I have with her other books and despite this book being just over 200 pages, she manages a lot of world building an plot. However, I never really got invested.

Celeste is a passable main character and I always like a sibling dynamic but because the story starts off right away, you never get to see the two together or get to know Celeste before the story is well under way. I had a hard time really routing for these characters that I didn't really know prior to their run in with the Virtues. The blurb refers to Celeste as a card sharp but aside from the first few pages, that is never explored and she doesn't have the personality I expect from that description (she's no Ferius Parfax).

I also was not expecting this book to lean so heavily into the religious themes. I realized from the blurb and title that there were angels and demons and such but it was much more prominent than I expected and being someone who doesn't know my religious stories well, I kept thinking this was a retelling and that I was missing something. It had that feeling of trying to use an existing story to fit more into a small book. I still have no idea if it did but it made me feel out of the loop and even more disconnected from the story.

The world itself was pretty cool but I wished there had been more on the technology side of it and less on the Virtues/Fallen piece. The glimpses into the workshop and hints at mining has me intrigued and that was never fully explored.

I was ultimately at deciding between 3 and 4 stars and the ending made me settle on 3. I kind of liked the ending but it was in no way satisfying.

* I received a free ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *
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Like others, I only wish this was longer! A novella is iust enough to make you want more in this universe. This was easy to get into and I was eager to know where it was going. I wish Rebecca Roanhorse would write more in this world!
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It took me a minute to wrap my head around Rebecca Roanhorse’s fantasy western novella, Tread of Angels. Some part of my brain is still immersed in her Between Earth and Sky series so I was a bit resistant to the Western town setting. But, as always, Roanhorse delivers a gripping story.

Celeste Semyaza and her sister, Mariel, are half-Fallen (their mother was descended from the Fallen Angels) in the mining town of Goetia. Celest can pass as an Elect, and deals cards at Eden. Mariel cannot pass, and is the singer at Eden. Mariel is found covered in blood next to the body of a murdered man, a Virtue. She is arrested, not by secular law enforcement, but by the Virtues. Celeste is certain her sister is innocent and pulls together all her resources to save her.

TMr. Ibrahim invites Celeste to take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli, where she will speak from the heart to convince the celestial court of her sister’s innocence. What’s understood is that because Mariel is Fallen, she is presumed guilty.

In just over 200 pages, Roanhorse pulls together a world every bit as rich and complex as the world in Black Sun.  We just see less of it. Celeste is an interesting character, but I can’t talk about the things that make her so compelling. She is a wrecking ball in her certainty that she is right. By the end, everyone has a little more clarity. The events in Tread of Angels feel like a tipping point in the world. I don’t know if this is the start of something or a stand alone story, but it is brilliant.

CW: Murder, attempted murder, brutality, betrayal, death of a baby bird, imprisonment.

I received this as an advance reader copy from Saga Press and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.
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Thanks to Saga Press and Netgalley for the ARC.

I want more, that's all I kept thinking about as I read this story. I want more time and depth with these characters(especially Abraxas), more about Divinity and the magic system and just more of the great wild west setting(as a Coloradoan I appreciated very much the mine being the Tabor). This whole world in the aftermath of a battle between Heaven and Hell just calls to me for more. There were definitely points where the story move so quickly and I wanted more pages. I would certainly have read a full length novel in this setting!!

Set in 1883 Colorado years after the battle and the fallout between the warriors of each side, society has divided itself into the halves, the Elect, the have-nots, the Fallen and the Virtues, who rule in judgment over all. Celeste and her sister Mariel work at a Fallen gambling hall when ,Mariel is arrested for the brutal murder of a Virtue. Celeste works to prove her sisters innocence and save her from execution and in doing so, unearths secrets and conspiracies.
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Celeste and Mariel are sisters. Both are half-breeds— Celeste, who can pass as Elect, had a comparatively privileged upbringing with her father, and Mariel stayed in the Fallen slums with their mother.  The sisters are now reunited and both working in a gambling and drinking establishment called Eden. Celeste, wracked by guilt about leaving Mariel, is her fiercest protector. 

Tread of Angels is a standalone novella from one of the writers creating some of the most interesting worlds in fantasy right now. It's quite different from The Sixth World and Between Earth & Sky books— it's set in a fantastical take on the Wild West, and our protagonist is both more innocent and less honest of a narrator than the main POV characters. 

It's a quick read and an interesting set-up. I enjoyed it.  The combination Wild West + dark fantasy set-up was unusual and fun, but we see relatively little of it and it's paired with a pretty predictable mystery. I think it may work better as a novel— more pages would have given the characters/plot room to flourish and to smooth out the exposition dumps.
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I have mixed feelings about this one. The concept has so much potential but feels unfinished. 

I have read and loved novellas in the past, but the scope of this one felt more suited for a novel format. I wanted to know more about this western-inspired fantasy world; it is gritty and dark and atmospheric, but it lacks complexity. For example, there were mentions of a war in the past, but not enough context regarding the ideals of the opposing sides or the consequences as the war played out. I wanted more about the mechanisms of government, the magic(?) system (is “divinity” magic or alchemical?), and the characters. The small glimpses we got into the love affair of Abraxas and Celeste had me practically foaming at the mouth for more, but ultimately many characters felt flat. 

I suppose that wanting more is as much a weakness of this novella as it is a testament to the author. It’s clear she is a talented storyteller. The pacing moved at a delicious clip and the dialogue felt real and urgent (as Celeste rushes to save her sister in a single day). With more development, this could have been a masterpiece. It touches on some current issues (church vs state, discrimination based on race and class, corruption in government) in really interesting ways. I appreciate that Roanhorse doesn’t shy away from heavy topics, but again, I just needed more in order for those ideas and themes to feel fully realized.
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This is by Rebecca Roanhorse, the author of Black Sun and other books as well. This is very much in a whole different genre, not only because it’s a novella so a short book but it’s a western whodunit mystery. So it takes place in a historical setting about a long ago war between God and Lucifer and we follow two sisters but one of them is accused of murder and taken away by the angelic justice system and the other sister has to save her. This is unlike anything I’ve seen from this author so I’m curious how this story will go for her fans. I personally enjoyed it!
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First, thank you to Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an unbiased review. It was really good. Like really really good, and I was hooked from the beginning. It was fast paced and well written. My only complaint was the ending wasn't what I was thinking it would be but there's nothing wrong with that. I hope this isn't a stand alone but the beginning of a series. I would highly recommend this to others.
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Genre wise this was a departure for me. I don’t normally go for fantasy, but this seemed dark enough and interesting enough to pass muster. And sure enough, it did…sorta.
I mean, I was entertained while reading this weird steampunk western mystery and thoroughly enjoyed the world building in it. The fantasy thing wasn’t the detractor for me here; instead, it ended up being the romantic subplot and the heightened dramatics of the sister act.
But still…it’s an interesting read. Set in a world of sharp social divisions between The Elect (the elite) and The Fallen (the others) with the protagonist of mixed blood straddling both worlds as she sets of to clear her sister’s name of murder.
Plus, a quick read, which is always a plus in a world where genre novels tend to be on a fatter side. So yeah, fun was had. Thanks Netgalley.
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I requested this from NetGalley based purely on the title and cover and because I've been meaning to read something by Rebecca Roanhorse since Black Sun came out and got all that buzz in 2020. I did not read the description.

Then, when I was approved for an ARC, I thought I'd made a grave error. This is a western whodunit, and I enjoy neither westerns nor whodunits. And then I looked at the top reviews and really felt like this wouldn't be for me.

I'm so glad I tried it anyway: this was phenomenal. Roanhorse packed an amazing amount of character development and world building into this little novella. The setting is the site of the ancient war between demons and angels: the Fallen and the Virtues are their descendants living in a society where there are two distinct classes. Our protagonist, Celeste, is half Virtue and half Fallen and must save her sister who has been accused of murdering a Virtue and taken away for execution.

I devoured this in two sittings and would absolutely recommend it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books!
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The city in which Rebecca Roanhorse’s forthcoming and fascinating novella takes place is the historical site of the long ago war between God and Lucifer. Celeste and Mariel are two sisters who work in one of the city’s gambling halls, and when Mariel is accused of murder and taken away by the angelic justice system, Celeste is determined to save Mariel from execution. She ends up being aided by Azrael, one of the demons who survived the long ago,war, and who was once Celeste’s lover. What ensues in this quick read kept me glued to the page.

While I have two of the author’s recent books on my TBR list, this is the first book I’ve read by her. The world building is absolutely solid, and the character development was excellent. The book’s length is just perfect.

My thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book.
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3.5 rounded up. Rebecca Roanhorse is one of my favorite authors and she has written some of my favorite characters of all times. What shone through most in this book was the characters. I loved how Celeste was motivated by her care for her sister and how that propelled her to make various choices in the world. The length of the novel caused this story to be a quick read for me, but I almost wish it had been longer to explore more of the lore elements that felt very complex. The reader is thrown into this universe and a lot of systems, names, and labels are given and I would have liked more of that to be explored. The mystery kept me engaged throughout, but the ending could have used more polishing and closure in my opinion. However, I still enjoyed reading this book and Roanhorse still remains one of my favorite authors. 

A huge thank you to Gallery books for an eArc in exchange for an honest review! Be on the lookout closer to publication date for my B2Weird tour post on
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This is very solidly a 3.5 for me. I appreciated Roanhorse’s commentary on family dynamics and the grayness of good/evil. The more main cast of characters get some very interesting development during the story, but many of the other characters fell a little flat for me (including the love interest). The best characters for me were Mr Ibriham and Mariel. They both had a lot of layers to work through and learn. Our main character, Celeste was also interesting, though some of her decisions didn’t make a lot of sense to me but I can understand what the reader is supposed to think is the reason why she did those things. 
The world building was both too much and not nearly enough. It wasn’t sinking in for me. I understand the concept of a town of what is essentially angels and I guess the damned (Again, a little fuzzy on that. I don’t think the Fallen are actually demons but more like the damned?? Abraxas is the only one that was referred to as a demon multiple times), but there were a lot of societal things that were thrown out that I wasn’t sure the significance of pointing out or that needed more explanation for me to fully understand. Maybe a reread at some point may help clarify more.
I did really enjoy the mystery and investigation that Celeste does as someone who really enjoys these kinds of plots. As well as the kind of courtroom drama that happens that can also be a good time.
I think this is a good crossover novella for people looking to transition into more adult fantasy. I also feel like people who enjoyed Holly Black’s YA Folk of the Air series would like this story for the commentary on sister relationships, the brief romantic scenes between Celeste and Abraxas, and the behind the scenes machinations. The vibe is similar, and I think this would be a good one for fans of that series who might want to dip more into Adult Fantasy without having to invest in a long series with very complex world building and 500+ page books.
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Tread of Angels was an interesting read. It was a pretty fast read as well. But I think that its length was something that also hinder this story. There just needed to be a bit more character development and world building to make this a truly outstanding read.

Celeste was an interesting character who was hard to like. She was tough, but she was also a bit naive when it came to some of the situations she found herself in. She was also a bit rash and also made decisions that were not always the best, which she knew, but made them anyways. She wasn’t very likable, but she was someone who I could understand. There was adequate background given but there needed to be a bit more in order to understand her fierce loyalty to her sister. Their relationship was interesting, but Celeste really did not know her sister as well as she thought she did.

The focus of the story was on Celeste and her journey to discover what had really happened to her sister, but she meets some interesting characters along the way. I did like her ex-boyfriend, Abraxas, and would have liked to see more of him. They had an interesting relationship and while I can understand why Celeste used him the way she did, I felt that she could have done better by him.

I liked the setting of the wild west mining town. The world building was adequate for the length of the book, but there was a lot of room for more. There is definitely a class system between the Fallen and the Virtues that needed just a bit more information to understand a bit better. I wasn’t entirely sure if the Fallen were half demon and the Virtues half angels, or if they were human but classified by which side their families had fought on in the war. There was also a bit of a steampunk feel to the story, with some interesting inventions that some of the characters created.

The story is of course beautifully written with wonderful detailed descriptions of the setting and the plot. The mystery was well done, with a surprising twist at the end. Celeste goes through a lot to help her sister, and even though I didn’t like how she eventually solves her dilema, she was pretty smart about it.

If you are a fan of Rebecca Roanhorse this is one you should give a try. The main issue was maybe the length, which keeps it from really exploring the world and the characters, but it is good considering how short it is.
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Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse

Tread of Angels is a new stand alone fantasy novella by author Rebecca Roanhorse, known for her Navajo inspired Sixth World fantasy series and her pre-Colombian inspired epic fantasy Between Earth and Sky (Black Sun) series.  Unlike those works however, Tread of Angels is a stand alone novella, featuring a noir-esque mystery in a world in which Demons and Angels are present on Earth to some extent, and their byblows - the Elect for Angels, the Fallen for Demons, and hybrids in between, - form the basis of this society in Colorado. 

The results is a story that starts out with some familiar beats - the Angel/Demons thing among us, with prejudice for those with Fallen blood is something I've read before, as is the Noir-ish story with the sister looking to save the accused of murder criminal by finding out a truth - but then shifts to something a bit more interesting and unique along the way.  And this winds up working really well, as the investigation reveals corruption and people being not what they seem, and a main character who makes choices you might not what turns out to be a pretty crushing ending.  If there's a fault here other than parts of this having been done before, it's that this is so short that some of the impact is blunted by not being together with characters long enough....and yet the shortness also allows this to form a pretty efficient complete story, so yeah this is a winner that's worth your time.  

Quick Plot Summary:  In this world of Angels and Demons, and their mortal descendants the Elect and Fallen, mixed-blood girl Celeste only cares for one thing: her sister Mariel.  Years ago, Celeste made a choice that she regrets that separated the two of them, and now that they are back together in the mining town of Goetia, Celeste - who can pass for being not of Fallen blood - wants more than anything to ensure her sister - whose Fallen blood can't be denied - is happy.  

So when Mariel is accused by the Virtue (the Angels) of murdering a Virtue, Celeste is determined to save her sister from their biased justice - even if it means playing a Virtue's rigged game by becoming her sister's advocatus diaboli.  But in this corrupt world, where Angels and Virtues deem Fallen guilty just by their very existence, Celeste soon finds that nothing is as it seems, and that her quest to save her sister may require her to go to lengths far beyond what she can imagine.....

Thoughts:  Tread of Angels begins from very well-trod ground in the fantasy/paranormal romance genres (this is firmly in the former btw) - a world with angels and demons, and people born of their blood and mixed heritages, with both being corrupt, not just the angels, and people of demon blood (the Fallen) discriminated against.  It also begins along a very well trod ground for a noir mystery - the detective character (Celeste) searching for answers about a crime supposedly committed by an innocent singer at a saloon, who woke up covered in blood....and who might not be as innocent a girl as she seems.  Some of these tropes are played pretty straight and you'll recognize them quite a bit: the authority figure with a hidden agenda, the fact that the alleged wrongly-accused is in fact not as innocent as her sister believed, the motives of possible other suspects and what the victim actually did....etc.  Then there's also the protagonist's demon ex, who wants to own her soul, and who she just can't quit in her heart even as she can't fully commit that....

And then Tread of Angels gets to its back half, where it starts to take those tropes and themes and feature Celeste taking actions as a result that take this to another level.  I'm not gonna claim they're wholly unique, and I'm sure they've been done in the noir genre before, but they're devastating here, ending this novella on a truly impactful level.  I don't want to spoil too much by saying further, only to say that the result is well worth your time.  Really the only flaw here is that as a novella, we don't get to see certain character developments more than a little bit, so certain betrayals don't register because we barely know the characters being betrayed.  But the story is so compact and strong that it hardly matters.
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I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m so fucking bored.

To be fair, there was also a miscommunication here: where the blurb talks about Virtues and Archangels and so on, I thought it was referring to literal Virtues and Archangels – not humans who use those terms as titles. I went in expecting – and excited for – a very different world than the one Roanhorse created here.

But even so, I found it so incredibly dull and eye-rolling. I grit my teeth over the name Celeste (which literally translates as ‘heavenly’) but her surname is Semyaza? As in, the leader of the Watchers??? A link which is never pointed our or explained? (I ran a search in the ebook to check.) And then just a few pages in, we get, I kid you not, a mention of a saloon girl named Lilitha?

Picture me shoving my face in a pillow and screaming. And not in a good way.

I’m not even going to get started on Abraxas, the sort-of love interest who was a General in the war against Heaven (how is he still on Earth when the rest of Lucifer & co are not??? Who knows!)

My point is, if you’re interested in Tread of Angels because you’re into angelic lore, this is not the book for you. You will catch all the oh-so-clever little references and they will make you wince or grind your teeth, because they’re not half as clever as they think they are.

Even without all of this, the story is incredibly dull. Maybe it would have worked better as a novel, so the plot could have moved a little more slowly and been a fair bit more complex? It reads as rushed, in novella-form. And while I liked Celeste in theory, I don’t understand how she got to be the way she is – good (and quick) with a knife but also very naive, which doesn’t really make sense given her background and living situation. Abraxas is an embarrassing cliche. The worldbuilding is disappointingly simplistic and not very interesting.
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Roanhorse’s Novella focuses on the unsurpassable captivating story of Angels and Demons, where perception overshadows the truth even when it stares you right in the face.
Celeste is considered a half-breed, raised with privilege and class by her father in the mining town of Goetia.  Her younger sister Mariel stayed with their mother in the slums of Goetia and was marked fallen.  Celeste will do anything to protect her baby sister, and that means anything.  So on the night, she sees her sister being dragged out of the club they both work at by Virtues; it takes Hypathia and Zeke to hold her in check not to run blade flying after the Virtues keeping Mariel. 
Luckily Hypathia has contacts and can find out where the Virtues are holding Mariel.  However, to get more information, Celeste will have to talk to her ex Abraxses, the Demon Lord.  The man wanted her mind, body, and soul and who she would have given herself to, but she had to sacrifice her happiness for Mariel, for they all each other had left.  When Celeste finally gets to see her sister, she winds up getting appointed the one to defend her (even though Celeste knows this is a setup, she knows she has no choice but to say yes).  Celeste has 48 hours to prove that Mariel didn’t do it, or she will be sentenced to Hell.
From this point on, the book just took off and was unputdownable. 
The book is fast-paced, heart pounding, “Hold on,” “Get out,” “No Way,” “You’ve got to be kidding,” to  “SAY WHAT NOW?” to Did I just read that correctly?  Let me reread that, to “OMG” I DID READ THAT RIGHT” “DAMN!!” 
I’m just speechless, and that’s saying a lot, Ms. Roanhorse.
Roanhorse has a story to tell if you read between the lines.  I feel that  her message in this Novella is:
1.	Do not ever assume, no matter who it is.
2.	Don’t ever take things for granted, for tomorrow is never promised.
3.	Never, ever let anyone steal your sunshine.  Live like it’s your last day on this earth.
My only con was this was too short.  

Thank you, NetGalley/Rebecca Roanhorse/Gallery Books.Gallery/Saga Press/ For this incredible eARC for my honest review.  My opinions are of my own volition.
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To begin with, Ms. Roanhorse makes the demon lord so gorgeous, kindly, intelligent and understanding, that if he wasn't a fictional character, I'd ask for his phone number. He's great. The love-of-his-life, Celeste the protagonist, is mildly interesting. What did he see in her?!

I agree with some of the other reviews that Tread of Angels needed to be fleshed out some more. The dialogue was predictable, The characters could have been more interesting had there been more detail of their lives. It's a short novel so there was room to explore. It would be a great story because it has a great premise, but there wasn't enough background to really care about the characters. Bit players instead of supporting actors. They seemed two dimensional., except for the demon lord. If it turns out that he's real, and not fictional, will someone give him my email address? Might he be on a dating app?

I greatly enjoy Ms. Roanhorse's books. I think I've read all of them. But Tread of Angels felt like it wasn't the final draft. As I said, the premise is so good that this could be a marvelous tale with a little more of the characters' lives fleshed out.

Thank you to Netgalley and Saga Press for allowing me to read and review Tread of Angels.
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Rebecca Roanhorse is at it again. 

By which I mean, giving me worlds that I want to know everything about. 

In Rebecca Roanhorse's latest story, you are plunged into a world where demons and angels coexist. Social classes exist among them all and the lines become blurred when pleasure and the law become involved. 

This was more than just a fantasy, it was a murder mystery placed in a fantasy world. No time is wasted as the book begins you are placed right in the middle of a bustling establishment right before the Order of Michael shows up to arrest Mariel for the murder of a Virtue. What follows is a journey that Celeste must take in her efforts to prove her sisters innocence. 

“Can’t leave justice up to God,” Zeke added morosely. He and Hypatia exchanged a look. They knew as well as Celeste did. 
God’s justice always ended in blood." 

While I enjoyed being in this new world I found it a little hard to get into at first just because I was plunged into the middle of a holiday in this new world right before the murder occurred. It was a little jarring to try to get into the depth of this world so quickly.  I wasn't shocked by the ending in any way as we didn't have enough background in the beginning and it wasn't a stretch to see where it was going. What I liked about this story was that it was about what lengths we go to for the people we love. The pieces of ourselves that we lose along the way when we find out how capable we are of certain things. 

I might be in the minority when I say that I enjoyed how Celeste's story ended. I feel like it was well deserved and to have it end in any other way would have made me dislike it. 

The story was slow and then the ending felt rushed and over so quickly that I believe if it had an extra couple of pages to expand on the ending it would have made it perfect. Overall I liked this fantasy western mystery and would definitely read more in this world if it ever turned into a series. I would like to spend more time focusing on the world in the next one though just to make more sense of where I am. 

Tread of Angels is out at your local bookstores on November 15, 2022! Pick up a copy if you ever wanted to read a  Law and Order-like story with a fantasy twist. 

Special thanks to NetGalley and SagaPress for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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I love Rebecca Roanhorse's writing, and will probably try out anything she puts out. This novella isn't the best thing I've read from her, but the world is really interesting, and I definitely see potential. It is an alternate universe where the angels and demons fought. The angels emerged victorious, and their descendants are known as Elect, whereas those who supported Lucifer are known as Fallen and considered to be a much lower class. A Fallen is accused of murdering an Elect, which is usually an instant death sentence, but her half-Elect sister is determined to prove her innocence.

As you can probably tell, it's a fairly complicated setup, with quite a bit of lore behind it, and most of this is told to us through infodumping at the beginning. After that, it's smooth sailing for a while, as the author slowly guides us through what the justice system looks like, but the ending is once again fairly rapid. I don't think the shorter format gave this story the room it needed to breathe, especially for how much it was trying to do.

Celeste isn't a particularly likeable protagonist, and I don't think she's intended to be, but she is fiercely protective of her sister, and will do literally anything for her, including asking a former demon lord lover for help. I did think some of her reactions felt overly dramatic for the situation, which might be because the author was trying to tell the story in a novella. The ending wasn't entirely satisfying, but leaves room for sequels within this world, and I would definitely be open to reading those.
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