The first two sentences of the blurb on the back of Archon read:
Angela Mathers is obsessed with visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night. Released from a mental institution, she hopes her new university, West Wood Academy, will give her the chance at a normal life.
I just need to get this out of my system upfront: LYING LIAR! WHOEVER WROTE THIS BLURB TELLS LIES!
Archon is book one in the trilogy The Books of Raziel. Angela is, as the blurb says, obsessed with angels, but she doesn’t hope for a normal life. (Lies!) She’s at the university seeking two things. One is forgiveness from her brother for killing their parents in a botched suicide attempt. The other is a way to be united with one of the beautiful angels that plagues her dreams, whether by summoning him or by dying to be with him in the afterlife.
The premise of an actively suicidal (but thwarted, like the cheerleader in Heroes) main character put me off at first. But part of that is because the first paragraph of the blurb made me think this was about a teenager with an unusual background seeking a normal life. That’s obviously not the case.
In this alternate Earth, the Vatican have revealed a prophesy about the end of the world. They say that the Ruin will rise, and cause the apocalypse—and that the Ruin will have “blood on her hair and blood on her hands”. As a result, anyone with red hair is persecuted. Angela herself was beaten and abused by her awful parents before their deaths.
The West Wood Academy is run by the Vatican on an island called Luz. The rumour is that the school accepts “blood head” students because the priests are trying to identify the Ruin and kill her (they’re pretty sure it’s a female) before she really gets started. That’s part of why Angela gets accepted. But what she discovers when she gets there is an ineffectual priesthood being dominated by a society of witches, led by the powerful and charming blood head Stephanie.
Angela pretty much instantly picks a fight with Stephanie. It all goes downhill from there—and when your world includes Hell as a possible destination, that’s a lot of downhill!
Luz is the most amazing setting for a book: a dilapidated, towering island of candles and constant rain, where one mansion is built on top of the ruins of another, and the bottom layer is slipping slowly into the sea. When I was still dubious about Angela at the start of the book, Luz’s shabby charm kept me reading.
Archon is pretty much crawling with supernatural creatures: angels, demons, Jinn (a sort of runt angel that looks like a gargoyle), Fae. Her descriptions of the angels—let’s just say if I was dreaming about them, I’d never want to wake up either! I really began to appreciate Angela’s obsession, although I liked the demons better… Does that say something about me?
I enjoyed Archon and will read the sequel when it comes out. Elements of the story are resolved at the end of book one, but, like all good trilogies, there are enough plot arcs continuing on that you will want to keep reading.
Sabrina Benulis lives in north-eastern Pennsylvania with her husband, Mike, and a sweet but spoiled cockatiel. Her website can be found here.
Cassandra Page is an editor and writer who thinks the current angel trend is way cooler than the vampire one was! You can find her blog here.