The term “Urban Fantasy” gets banded about willy-nilly, when trying to pigeonhole books that are set in the modern times, but have a paranormal element to them. Many times, it is used to try to disguise paranormal romance books in order to sell more books.
Blood and Feathers is the first book in a long while where the term Urban Fantasy describes the book to a T. This is a book that would scoff at Paranormal Romance before tossing it down into the many levels of hell. And though I do enjoy books that like to straddle the very fine line between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, this book reminded me how much I had missed the purist form of the genre. That being said, the series could develop some sort of romance. Yet for now, I sat back and enjoyed the rip-roaring, twisty-tourney adventure that Morgan had managed to weave.
For a first time novelist, Morgan certainly has shown a flair for writing a book where the plot had more blind alleys, plot twists and red-herrings that by the last page I was breathless. The flow of the book is just a joy to read. Each page and chapter has a purpose, though at first you may not think so. Morgan certainly keeps you on your toes, yet it never felt clunky or forced. Not once did I feel that the pace was slowing, and for a book that is rich in world building and setting up future plots, this is an added bonus.
What makes the pace so effortlessly easy to read are the characters in the book? Morgan has put so much effort in how each character interacts and the back history to her angel characters that it is easy to follow. This is all accomplished without going into too much detail.
The overall plot of the book is very simple. Alice, being the daughter of one of Raphael’s choir and both half human and half angel, is destined to play an important part in the war between the angels and the demons.
To help her, Alice is assigned Mallory, an Earthbound Angel who is serving out his penance for daring to question the status quo. Mallory has a drinking issue along with an issue with nearly all authority figures. He also has a bit of a past with Alice’s mother, who was an Angel.
The character development of these two characters, especially Alice is just haw droppingly awesome. Not once did I feel that either character was acting in a way in order to serve the plot.
Alice is such a refreshing character in the genre. She is literally thrown into a situation that would make anyone’s head spin. She is witness to her father’s death, finds out that she is part Angel and that has a special gift which is both rare and deadly. What doesn’t help is that her gift is tied to the pain of others. At first she has difficulty in trying to control it, after Mallory and his “parole officer” Gwyn, a Decendent aka a fully-fledged member of Gabriel’s choir discover the link accidently.
It is interesting to watch Alice gain control of her gift as its clearly not the easiest thing to do. She is given the choice to descend into hell in order to destroy the cause of Hellmouths opening up and enticing people down.
This is a theme that runs strongly throughout the book. The theme that everyone has a choice in what they do with their life. There is no “destiny” and it is made clear that Alice will not be forced to join Heaven’s side. After a heart to heart with Mallory, Alice chooses to accept the mission and undergoes an extensive training regime to prepare for her trip into hell.
Morgan casts aside the normal notion of what hell is like. Instead of the fire and brimstone, she chooses to have hell as cold desolate place where each level of hell is worse than the last.
In the last few chapters of the book, we see how much of a pawn Alice really is to both The Fallen and Lucifer, along with a certain Archangel. It is not as clear cut as we first thought and though the battle is won by the Angels, it is not without a heavy price.
The ending is poignant and the battle is far from over. We also see the lengths the Angels will go to in order to regain the balance with Hell. This is an important point about Morgans book. It is not about beating Lucifer, it is about keeping the balance between the two sides. There is such a ying and yang to this world, which gives a very fresh spin on the norm.
Any fans of the first six season of the TV show Supernatural will love this book. It has that epic feel to it that keeps you reading on well into the night in order to find out what is happening. The plot twists are like sucker punches to the stomach and they leave you with that feeling of disbelief. Many times I found myself gasping in disbelief at what I was reading
Morgan doesn’t pull any punches in her writing, which keeps the story grounded in a reality. No one is entirely safe and no one comes out of the battle unscathed. For a really original read, pick up this book and prepare for a wild ride. Next August can’t come quick enough for I am sure that the second book will be as much of a wild ride as the first.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Blood and Feathers
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