Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan
Alice isn’t having the best of days – late for work, missed the bus, and now she’s getting rained on – but it’s about to get worse.
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act – or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever. That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by Mallory – a disgraced angel with a drinking problem he doesn’t want to fix – Alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell.
What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding – and can she trust either side?
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise when I reveal that I have been looking forward to Blood and Feathers for quite a while; pretty much since I heard about it, to be honest (eagle eyed readers of the site will have spotted it being mentioned on the preview of 2012 post way back in January). There is something terribly enticing about the idea of the ultimate battle between good versus evil. Now, I’ll freely admit that I’m a confirmed atheist, but I still can’t help but be intrigued by the concepts of heaven and hell and their eternal struggle against one another.
Like a modern day Dante, Alice travels into the underworld (or through the looking glass?), to discover the truth of her own origins. Why is she so important to both sides in this conflict? Alice’s journey of self-discovery acts as the perfect introduction to Morgan’s universe. The reader gets to tag along and learn the rules of engagement at the same time as Alice does. There are various types of angel, and each caste has their own rules and abilities.
Alice is an engaging lead. Her sardonic attitude is infectious and I found myself enjoying the fact that she doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
What’s the first thing you think of when I say ‘angel’?” asked Mallory. Alice shrugged. “I don’t know…guns?
Morgan’s angels are warriors; they have lived the soldier’s life since time immemorial and they have suffered greatly for their cause. All of them carry war wounds, both physical and mental, as their never-ending war of attrition has left its mark. Principal amongst them is Mallory, I think you’ll like him. How can I say this without spoiling things? Lets just say that he doesn’t fit the typical textbook definition of ‘angelic’. The rest of the heavenly host we meet are just as quirky. I particularly enjoyed when the heavy hitters, the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael finally arrived.
Unsurprisingly for a novel featuring a horde of warrior angels, events inevitably lead towards a huge climatic battle and the action comes thick and fast. The massed forces of heaven and hell squaring off against one another is a genuine highlight. This huge sequence adds an epic, almost cinematic, scope to proceedings.
There are also some nice additional features hidden away after the conclusion of the main story. At the back of the book, not only will you find details of the Blood and Feathers playlist, essential for anyone who enjoys listening to music while reading, but also the designs for the sigils that denote each angelic choir. Since finishing the novel I’ve been thinking about which one would make the best tattoo. I’m currently leaning toward the sigil for Barakiel in case you’re wondering.
I’ve been extremely lucky of late, and had the opportunity to read some first rate debut novels. Blood and Feathers is another great addition to this list. Morgan’s writing has a self-assured quality and I rattled through the entire novel in a couple of sittings. I just didn’t want to stop reading. The promise that I’ve seen evidence of in this author’s short stories is fully delivered in her first full novel. I don’t doubt for a moment that this novel will be a huge success and deservedly so. Do yourself a favour and get in on the ground floor of a series that is going to be huge.
Secrets, lies, a humungous battle, some shocking revelations and just a little dash of treachery. Mix it all together and you have the perfect recipe for an action fantasy that will leave you hungry for more.
Blood and Feathers is published by Solaris Books and is available now in paperback and ebook formats. The sequel Blood and Feathers: Rebellion will be released next year. Highly recommended.