Although this is the first book I’ve read in the Remy Chandler series, this is actually the fourth. However, that didn’t disrupt my liking at all for this book. Remy was a Seraphim, one of God’s host of Angels. After fighting in the War in Heaven and killing his brethren who disobeyed and rebelled against his Lord, Remy became disillusioned with being an angel and decided to Fall and live as a human. Since then, he has cloaked his Seraphim nature in the guise of human mortality although he is still immortal.
Remy recently lost his wife of forty years and is trying to get back into the dating scene. He needs that human connection to retain his grip on his humanity since the Seraphim is a strong presence within him that wants to regain control. He goes out on a date with a nice woman, Linda, whom he likes very much, even if she’s not Madeline, his wife. Remy also has his dog, Marlow, whom he can understand, his police detective friend, Steven Mulvehill, and the folks he helps as a private detective to keep him bound to the human world. One of his human clients in an old, Black woman, Fernita Green, who was given his card by Remy’s friend Pearly Gates to help her find what she has forgotten, something very important, even though she doesn’t know exactly what it is.
Remy is also called to help a special group with their little mission. The Sons of Adam are literally that, the direct descendants of the first man, Adam. Their ancestor is still living, barely, and they want to take him back to the Garden of Eden where he can die and be buried in the home he was ejected from many years ago for his sin. They need Remy’s help to find the key to the Gates of Eden. There is another force who will stop at nothing to keep them out of Eden because their sin makes them too unholy to be welcomed again, even if the Sons feel that they have earned the redemption to re-enter the Garden. This force is a powerful Cherubim who will destroy everyone who stands in the way of his Holy mission, a Cherubim who has lost his grip on sanity, which makes for a very dangerous adversary.
This novel is a definitely must read for readers who love angel fiction. Sniegoski’s descriptions of the Heavenly Host are both beautiful, majestic, and very scary at times. Their power and their devout adherence to their missions, even if they aren’t always in the best interest of humanity, made for riveting reading. He also brings to life what living in the Garden of Eden must have been like and how devastating it must have felt to be Adam and Eve and to be ejected from the only home they knew. Sniegoski presents the other side of the famed couple with the Daughters of Eve, who are sworn enemies of the Sons, but they might just have to work together to save Eden, a living entity who is sick from the secret she carries in her soil.
Sniegoski manages to bring these angelic, legendary characters to life, showing how their emotions seem human even if they aren’t. He sheds light on the War in Heaven and the anguish the Angels must have felt to be at war with their brethren, their love for God and how that was warped by their feeling that God chose humans over them, and their utter weariness at fighting such an ancient battle and acting as God’s arms, despite their disillusions with it all. Remy is a great main character. He’s an angel that has seen so much but he’s chosen to live as a man because the human world gives him the connection and the peace that he didn’t have when he fought against his fellow angels. Deep down, he still has that divine presence in the Seraphim within, who constantly fights to be free and to unleash the glory and the fury of God onto the wicked. Light is also shed on Remy’s friend, Francis, an angel who works as an assassin for Heaven, killing other Fallen angels and those who fight against Heaven. He is a conflicted character who suffers from guilt from choosing the wrong side of the War in Heaven and falls in love with one of the people he has been ordered to kill. This love affair ties into the overall story, and you can’t stop reading to see what’s going to happen.
Readers of fantasy don’t often get to read about books that ponder the Judeo-Christian legends. Sniegoski does it very well here. This book is a visual feast full of the power and the terror of which angels are capable. He showed how divinity and humanity don’t necessary mix together well because the humans that live on earth are so far removed from Heaven and the Garden, although our origins are still tied into the realms. Visions of the first man and woman and the paradise they were ejected from were expertly rendered here. He even taps into the unholy, as one divine Host has taken it upon himself to do a little creation on his own.
This was a fascinating read, with a hero for whom I really rooted. Remy is such a well-done mix of the everyman and the angelic, with those two natures at war with each other. The action scenes were larger than life and awe-inspiring—exactly what I’d expect for war between angels. If there was anything lacking in this novel, it was the absence of the direct presence of God. We only see the angels and their interpretations of God’s will. In the context of this story, I think it would have been richer if we saw some direct evidence of God’s hand in what was unfolding.
There is a lot to take in with this story. It ended with some loose threads, ones that I expect will be further explored in the next book in this series. I plan to continue reading this series, because it definitely has an appeal for someone like me—an urban fantasy lover and reader who has been fascinated with angels since she was a little girl.
- Reading level: Ages 18 and up
- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Roc; Reissue edition (February 7, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451464125
- ISBN-13: 978-0451464125
Books in the Remy Chandler series in the order they should be read:
A Kiss Before the Apocalypse
Dancing on the Head of a Pin
Where Angels Fear to Tread
A Hundred Words for Hate
In the House of the Wicked