This opening for a new series by Laurell K. Hamilton was… not entirely promising. A Terrible Fall of Angels is an introduction into the world of Zaniel Havelock, a cop who is able to and trained to communicate with Angels. In this world, Hamilton not only focuses on the Abrahamic ideas of Heaven and Hell but also brings in concepts and deities from other religions, such as Wiccan, Norse, and Voodoo religions. Continue reading to understand my hesitancy with this new series, but also things I did actually like!
Meet Detective Zaniel Havelock, a man with the special ability to communicate directly with angels. A former trained Angel speaker, he devoted his life to serving both the celestial beings and his fellow humans with his gift, but a terrible betrayal compelled him to leave that life behind. Now he’s a cop who is still working on the side of angels. But where there are angels, there are also demons.
There’s no question that there’s evil at work when he’s called in to examine the murder scene of a college student—but is it just the evil that one human being can do to another, or is it something more? When demonic possession is a possibility, even angelic protection can only go so far. The race is on to stop a killer before he finds his next victim, as Zaniel is forced to confront his own very personal demons, and the past he never truly left behind.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Unfortunately, my biggest complaint with A Terrible Fall of Angels is the main character. AHHHH! Z/Havoc/Zaniel Havelock seems to be this macho buff guy who thinks everyone is flirting with him, males, females, straight people, bisexual, gay — it doesn’t matter, he’s a hunk. But also he’s working through some stuff with his wife, which I respect. What I don’t respect is the inner monologue of it being so hard to be faithful and how he thinks his wife hates him but like maybe she doesn’t and how he needs to try to stop flirting so much and if he wasn’t involved with his wife, he’d totally go for that girl. It made it very hard for me to feel any connection or investment in his character.
Another qualm I had was the pacing of the story. A Terrible Fall of Angles started out very quickly in media res of a case involving angels and a murder, likely by demonic means. It was an expedient way to get the reader into the world, which I liked. The first third of the book seems to follow this case, with very intense and action-packed scenes that were really great to see how magic works in this world. However, there is a fairly large chunk that seems to fall off from the case and begin talking about his couple therapy with his wife (which is like, awesome for them, I totally support that, but I also feel like he is in no way actually trying to fix his relationship by flirting and appraising nearly every human’s body he comes across in a sexual way), and then these hints and allusions to corruption and secrecy among the College of Angels coming as a result of the reunions of his two besties from the College that we just now learned about. And then finally when you kinda forgot about the case it comes back and is quickly solved. So the pacing seemed off and at times I was trying to figure out what is the main conflict and what is she setting up to be an overarching conflict for the series.
I did appreciate the desire to involve several different religious beliefs in spirituality and deities. The main focus, due to Havoc’s abilities and background with the College of Angels, is the Abrahamic religions’ concept of angels, demons, and God. However, other characters, such as Lieutenant Charleston and Detective Ravensong, interact with Loa and totems, respectively. I would have liked more focus given to the non-Abrahamic religions but I believe that Hamilton will explore them more in later books in the series.
I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt that maybe Hamilton tried to pack too much into A Terrible Fall of Angels and that I felt overwhelmed and distracted. I was not in love with the main character, which makes a book from only one point of view very difficult to enjoy. The plot and pace seemed a bit off, but I’m willing to forgive that. I would be willing to read the second book in the series, but there is a lot to make up for after reading this first installment.