Angels and demons are prominent figures in modern entertainment. So prominent I’ve begun to consider them a bit stale. I mean, if you’ve read one novel featuring angels and demons as the main characters, you know pretty much what to expect from most of the others.
In Angelus, Moore offers a version of angels and demons rooted in anthropology instead of the supernatural, spinning a tale that’s not only a fun read but also poses real questions about tolerance, prejudice and what it means to be human. And she does it in a natural, not at all heavy-handed way.
In Moore’s novel, homo sapiens, homo daemonis and homo angelus are all branches on the human family tree, living next door to each other for thousands of years. As a result, demons and angels have appeared in our mythology since the dawn of human civilization, and have influenced our culture in countless ways. And while angels and demons have kept a low profile over the last few centuries, members of all three species still interact frequently enough to warrant the existence of SITO, a secret organization dedicated to keeping the peace between them.
As interesting as the world of Angelus is, though, Moore excels at keeping the story front and center; a story I was eager to devour page after page, right up until an ending that delivered on all it promised.
Angelus is experienced through the eyes of Sarah Connelly, a half-daemon SITO agent. When the story begins, she’s assigned to the Child Protection Unit, helping to track down runaway non-sapiens children among other things. She’s good at what she does, and she’s great with children, but Connelly dreams of working on criminal cases.
As the story unfolds, Connelly gets her wish and ends up racing across the globe to save the life of a half-breed child. A child destined to be sacrificed by a group of angelus fanatics devoted to the idea of racial purity.
It’s a good story and Moore tells it very well. That said, there are a few minor nits I should pick.
First, I’d be hard-pressed to name a book with more adverbs per page. Characters rub their necks “tiredly” and grin “sheepishly” whenever they get a chance. And it’s almost never “he said” or “she said,” when the dialog tag could be “she said nervously” or “he said softly.” It never quite rose to the level of distraction, but it came close a few times.
There’s also the matter of the main character’s boss, Starks. He falls firmly in that “Angry Chief” cliche anyone reading bad detective fiction will be familiar with, and spends a lot of his screen time shouting and pounding on his desk. Still, criticizing a novel for one less-than-stellar character is like hating the Beatles because of Ringo Starr.
Angelus is a novel where it’s issues are far outweighed by the compelling story, great cast of characters and a world that feels as real as this one. It’s one of the best indie books I’ve read this year and I suggest you check it out.