With the hopes of reading about an evil character, I started this book without many expectations. I’m not a fan of angels in stories so I’ve rarely read them. However, Erica Crouch’s story is one that will leave you awed and gasping at all the turns and twists it takes, at the realistic feel of it, and her wonderfully woven characters that jump right off the pages.
Let me start firstly with my favorite character in the whole story, Pen. I thought at first that she was stupid for siding with Hell just to be with her brother. But as the story unravels, so does my empathy for her. She’s more than just a fallen angel torturing the people on Earth and waiting for the next great battle where Hell will take over Heaven. She’s someone who is fighting to survive constantly, to act as if she’s as evil as her twin brother, Azael, so as to not have anyone doubt her alliance. Yet she’s so much more than that. I wouldn’t do her any justice here, but I completely fell for her character and how it developed in the story as she struggled with the mark she wore that tried to claw at the last remains of light Gabriel saw in her.
Then we have the sexy, sweet, innocent Archangel Gabriel. I had my doubts with him as well, but he grew on me. Rather than being the goody-two shoes everyone thinks he is, he shows to Pen a side of him far more complex as well. He is told to be good, to do this and that to defend Heaven but he has his doubts about the cause and if there is such a thing as being only god or only evil, and not something in between. He defies the system, he challenges the other Archangels, and straight-up says what he thinks and has his own opinions rather than the ones that others try to implant in him. He’s awesome, for a lack of better word.
“Angels are not even allowed to have opinions, at least not those that Heaven hasn’t told them to have.”
With Gabriel and Pen as a main focus, we are shown in the book the human–plus the angelic and demonic–struggle of identity, beliefs, purpose, and decisions to make. It is not taken lightly and Erica writes in detail the consequences these can have individually and to society, or in this case, Hell, Heaven, and Earth.
“What you’ve done isn’t the only thing that defines who you are. Words are just as powerful as action. They can inspire actions in others, can’t they?”
Then there’s Azael. Dang, what a fine bad boy he is! He’s hilarious, reckless, impulsive, and evil. Very evil. But he cares about his sister very much even with the weird things she does, in his own way. He’s a demon you know, he has to keep a reputation to be taken seriously. Which brings forth the whole argument that if we’re all just divided in blacks and whites, instead of having shades of grey in the middle. If you want to know more of him, either read Erica’s complete series, or read Chiara’s letter to him at Books for a Delicate Eternity. It’s great.
“Giving in to evil is like falling asleep. You can just close your eyes and submit to the darkness. The shadows will spill forward and steal all of the light from you, like a well of black ink spilling over fresh parchment. It’s an unending night, and it’s very tempting to just sleep forever.”
The plot was complex and had its unexpected turns. I would expect this or that, just to be smacked in the face with something else entirely. Any details about them would be total spoilers. A particular favorite of mine was that the story, even though it had romance, it also had many other things that revolved around the story and the characters. It went to different times in the past to explain the war where the angels fell and Heaven and Hell battled each other, to the present where we would see how the end approached with great speed. No detail is left without an explanation and those were easy to grasp, thank God. Details vomited on a page are boring but here are highly welcome because it gave more depth to the story and characters in a way that doesn’t let you dizzy.
Overall, this was a pretty dang good book. Forget about other books about angels. I’m staying with Erica’s series. Her style gave life to the words, making them fly around in my head as they took a life of their own. Not to mention, she has awoken my curiosity to read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, among other works of literature quoted in the book. Definitely worth picking up for all those hopeless romantic, fantasy and paranormal thirty folks with characters that will live on in you head way after you finish the last page.
“What I mean is, we are our flaws, but they don’t have to define us as either good or evil. It’s possible to be both.”
Rating: 5 stars
PS. Check out Marianne’s review on Ignite by clicking here. ALSO, Ignite is available for free on most ebook platforms, so go pick your copy!