Tread of Angels by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book falls into the esoteric category of "religious fantasy." This particular religious fantasy is of the Christian variety, with fallen angels, regular angels, and demons fighting a war on Earth. One fallen angel is killed, and his body (which apparently turned to stone afterwards) provides the miraculous "divinity" mineral that powers a great deal of this alt-history steampunk America.
This sounds interesting, and would have been if the world had been a little better explored. Unfortunately, even at 200 pages, I felt like we were just scratching the surface. The tight focus on the protagonist Celeste didn't help this, as of course she already knew exactly what Elects and Virtues were, and didn't feel the need to stop and explain them. I as a reader however was a bit lost. I wish a few pages out of the 200 had been used to better flesh out the world.
The other problem is with Celeste. For someone who is supposed to be a card dealer/sharp, she was pretty naive and slow on the uptake, especially when it came to her sister. Now, I can understand clinging to her sister as her last surviving relative, and not wanting to believe bad things about her, but as the book went along, everything in the plot pointed to the sister actually being the one to commit the murder. But Celeste refused to even entertain the thought, and did some pretty bad things as a result--including attempting to frame an innocent woman for the murder, which would have led to said woman's death. Celeste also roped her former lover, the demon Abraxas, into this scheme, which resulted in Abraxas' turning away from her completely at the end.
I suppose if the author's intent was for her main character to hit rock bottom, she succeeded. However, the book stops at that point, and we never get to see her start putting her life together again. Since this story is lacking in both worldbuilding and characterization, I wonder if it should have been a longer length. As it is, it ends on a frustrating and unsatisfying note. I generally like Rebecca Roanhorse's books, but this one is not one of her better efforts.
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