Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Ginger Garrett
"The Age of Fear has Begun."
I am a writer of angels; I am a lover of angels. They are the one character in fiction and life that appeal to me. I know...I know...vampires are in, but angels have so much more to say, give, and do, than the blood-suckers or non-bloodsuckers that are covering the bookshelves right now. I am pained by this book for many reasons, but mostly becuase this is the second in a series and I've not been able to read the first one. But this little jewel of a book, that landed in my house, has made me remember how good adventure can be when mixed with soul, heart, and very good writing.
We begin with Mariskka Curtis. She is an ex-nurse who did something unthinkable. When one of her patients passed away, she not only stole the woman's Rolex, but she also stole a manuscript and claimed it as her own. Now, of course, just like all irony in life, this book became a number one bestseller and Mariskka needs to somehow learn how to write and come up with a sequel. If not, everyone in the world will find out that she is nothing but a thief.
She wakes up one morning, ready to taste her frothy cappucino from her million-dollar machine. Walking into the kitchen, she spies two men. The Scribe, with his Book of Life laid out on the table, and an angel named Mbube. (Quick fact: Mbube is the Zulu word for lion.) Anyway, Mariskka - a complete non-believer who lost God a long time ago - is sent into the story of the Scribe. I assumed it was to find her faith and bring her back to the life she could have if she would only believe in the power that protects us all.
However, this book has many, many surprises. We are taken away from Mariskka and sent into the world of Sicily in 1347. We soon meet up with a young girl by the name of Panthea. Panthea is the rich daughter of Dario, who basically owns Sicily. Panthea is going to be engaged to Armando - a mighty warrior who has fought for her father, and has loved her since she was a child. Her father thinks this is a good match for his daughter. Panthea disagrees...in a way. She loves Armando, but he is sometimes too gentle with her. She wants the fire in her belly; she also wants to be the first women's libber in Sicily and own her castle and lands in her own right - not have to acquire them through marriage and take a backseat to her husband like she did her father. Panthea lost her mother when she was very young. When her mother was ill, she ran to the church to "negotiate with God." She gave Him all the money in her pockets and begged Him to keep her mother alive. God failed her. Her mother was taken and, ever since, Panthea has blamed the higher powers for her loss, notr knowing that her loss would be much, much greater in the end.
A huge, foreboding ship docks in the Sicilian harbor and a dashing, dark figure emerges from the ship. This man's name is Damiano. He has come from a great distance and works for a master whose realm stretches as far as the winds. He is here to do a job, and he will not be derailed. When he is invited to dinner, Panthea flirts outrageously with the man - trying to stop her father from simply handing her and his own realm over to Armando like a sack of grain. She needs something more. She needs to be noticed, and perhaps this "bad boy" whose dark stare fills her with excitement is the way to get out of the "contracted" boring lfie that her father is throwing her into. Too late, she finds herself in the hands of a literal monster. Too late, she finds her world collapsing down around her ears as the Black Death comes to her village.
We also meet Gio. Gio is a medicine woman - some would say witch - who uses her herbs and intelligence to cure the sick and bring babies into the world. (There is a part where she uses ants to "stitich" a wound, which was a fantastic bit of writing). Lazarro is the priest in the town. He believes, like everyone did at that time, that the only people smart enough and worthy enough to take care of the sick, were men of the cloth. Only they had "God's ear" and could beg the Lord to spare a soul from death.
These characters were my favorite, because they represented the two sides that go head to head still today: Science versus religion. They were also my favorite characters because of their backstory, which I won't reveal because I feel that everyone should buy this book and read it immediately. Let's just say that Gio and Lazarro have known each other all their lives, and because of one painful moment, when they both 'died' from a falsehood - they became enemies. But when the Black Death hits, they must fight together to save their world from utter destruction.
There are so many wonderful points written into this thrilling novel, that it was completely impossible for me to put it down. A few of note, was when the author told me that it was a good thing that angels were immortal. God was right to make them that way, because they are the one things we'd want to destroy if we could. Why? Because an angel who follows us through our life and sees the atrocities, lies, and sins that we commit as we grow up, knows everything bad about us. We'd want to kill them simply for their memories of us when we were...let's say...not acting in a very god-like manner. The author also wrote, "How little work there is for the devil when men walk the earth." What can you say to that? Turn on the news. She's right. God isn't starting the end of mankind - man is. That's what the word means, perhaps. Mankind: Man killing off his own kind.
The author also explains what pain can do. In fact, when a lightning bolt of sheer peace hits a character's body, her hands open and her fingers stretch. The character never knew that she'd "been walking through her whole life with fists." That part gets to me, because it's true. Why else would we be in constant need of doctors and massage therapists down here? God didn't make the pain and stress, but he made the "healing" people who would try their best to combat the pain. In other words, life hurts - but life is the greatest gift He could offer us in the first place.
This is a non-stop thriller. The adventure, the prose, the characters, all combine to make this a truly "un-put-downable-read." Even the descriptions of the town - Sicily's marketplace that is perfumed with roasting meats and dry herbs, with cattle tracking mud on the recently swept streets - brings you to another world to experience first hand the love, life, and loss that happened so long ago. I guess the only hard part for me, writing wise, was the angel. For me, angels have always been the most literary characters, with wonderful voices and manner of speaking that make words flow through your ears and lift you into Heaven. Mbube is clipped and short with his words, almost like a child who can't speak English. This is only me, of course. I know where the author was going with her character and I appreciate her point of view...because its different from mine.
Which is, in the end, what we're talking about. Whether we agree or disagree - on science versus religion - doesn't matter. As a human race we should be preserving what we have before another plague is needed to bring us back together.
Read this. Love this. Be thrilled by the adventure and gasp at the pain. But, more importantly, understand everything the author says. She has alot to say, and I can't wait to read more. The final book in this trilogy is going to be about the witches persecuted in Europe. I'll be looking for that one with an eager eye. Ms. Garrett, I'm a new, huge, fan.