Reviewer Sandy Graham: Born and raised in Canada, Sandy spent 35 years with The Boeing Company in a variety of engineering and management positions. After retirement, he satisfied a long-standing urge to delve into creative writing. Sandy has authored three novels, Two Loves Lost, The Pizza Dough King and Murder – On Salt Spring?
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publisher: Outskirts Press
If you like fast-moving fantasy literature, you will love this book. A kaleidoscope of shifting colorful characters, images and scenes will thrill readers, especially those who enjoy visualization.
The story moves between four realms; barely touching on Heaven, briefly visiting Purgatory, focussing on Hell and with a secondary role played by the living world, called “Topside”.
Anael (Uh-nail), an exquisite, innocent, young angel, finds life in eternally good Heaven a bore and succumbs to an urge for adventure. She doesn’t take the classic “fall from grace” route; no, she sneaks out of heaven and drops into a sleazy bar in Purgatory. Still scratching the surface there, she is hijacked to Hell and given to a conniving duchess living in luxury. Anael’s wings are “hacked” off, perhaps severing her way back to Heaven.
Hell is not simply a fiery furnace but rather a complex social structure populated by the condemned and demons, all with human strengths and frailties. Many long to return Topside. Some demons do by taking over living bodies. One demon, Gaap (Gap), is a “transporter” able to move freely between the three lower realms and take others with him. Anael unwittingly entices him to become her guardian and fills him with longing to extend that to lovers.
Readers who mentally verbalize each word might prefer the Glossary moved to the front of the book, perhaps titled “Cast”. That would correct pronunciation at the outset and more important, hasten the reader’s orientation to the story. It pays to scan the Glossary before reading the book.
Tracking the plot is like walking through a candy store with delightful distractions at every step. Fales paints image after image, one transitioning into another, with well-turned phrases such as “purple-painted fingers pluck at the strings flamenco style and noise rides the air, creating a warm summer breeze in the heart of the room” and “placing a delicate palm on his shoulder as emerald flecks swim with concern in the pool of her eyes”. As the story moves forward the age-old conflict of good versus evil emerges (in Hell, no less) and the pages turn faster to its climax.
Jennifer Fales combines extraordinary imagination and bubbling wit with an accomplished writing style. She plays on all of our senses while maintaining an upbeat mood throughout. There is a depth to the story one might not expect in a fantasy. This is her second novel and her obvious enthusiasm thankfully indicates there’s more to come.
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