Book Review: A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton

Posted August 11, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Misc. / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy
Published by Berkley on August 17, 2021
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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Also by this author: Lunatic Café, Bloody Bones, A Lick of Frost, Killing Dance, Dead Ice, Crimson Death, Serpentine, "Wounded", Fantastic Hope, Cerulean Sins, Sucker Punch, Rafael

First in the Zaniel Havelock paranormal fantasy series and revolving around Detective “Havoc” Havelock.

This eARC was sent to me by NetGalley and Berkley for an honest review.

My Take

I know . . . it’s a Laurell K. Hamilton without erotic sex! Yet, like Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Meredith Gentry, the underlying theme is of good versus evil.

Hamilton has created an alternate world that blends the otherworldly with the everyday. One of cops and murderers, of different religions and magical practices, one in which anyone’s faith or actions can impact others’ actions or appearances, i.e., angels and demons. It’s kind of scary to think that “mere” belief can spell an angel’s downfall.

Another part of this world is the angels themselves and the interaction they have with the Angelus.

It’s easy to feel a connection with these characters from the PD’s Metaphysical Coordination Unit, as they experience the same struggles of being a cop as our own world does. I do like what the College teaches about skin color. As for the description Zaniel makes about Emma with all that energy and light around her that he hadn’t seen since the College of Angels, well, this’ll be fun in the second book. Look out, Suriel!

I feel betrayed by this College of Angels. From what Zaniel says (and discovers), it is a cult that brainwashes the students it takes from their parents into believing that their way is the only way and everyone else is influenced by Satan. Hmmm, sound like any groups you know? Oh, lol, it also sounds like people who believe the idiots in government and broadcast that vaccines are the work of the devil *more laughter*.

I had to laugh through all the PC issues raised. Yeppers, it sounds like our world all right, always worrying about how people are referred to.

It is fun to see how Hamilton blends our world’s beliefs and pulls them into A Terrible Fall of Angels. Hamilton also raises the point about what hell is . . . and I do prefer her idea about it!

On the plus side, everyone has a Guardian Angel! On the other hand, Guardian Angels can’t do anything for you unless you ask. Unlike the totems. I suspect I’d prefer those animal guides!

Hamilton is using first person protagonist point-of-view from Zaniel’s perspective, so we hear all about his sins and his whining — why does he have to be persuaded to save that hand. Oy. That man is in such denial! Of course, his wife is a nightmare. No wonder he’s panicky about any moves he makes.

Geez, the demon finally “explains” why these women are dying. Just like a rapist to create an excuse for doing what he wants.

I’m confused about the difference between an Infernal and an Infernalist, The first is a demon? and the second is one who gets rid of demons?? Although, the way Suriel behaves, I’m wondering if she’s part demon. At the least, she’s hypocritical, judgmental, and rigid in her thinking. AND she’s starting to wonder about the College, even as she acts in illegal ways herself.

The prose varies between College of Angelese when Zaniel is thinking about his previous life and how he got where he was, and everyday speech with his Unit. Okay, yeah, there’s a bit of the psychological in here as well, especially when it comes to Jamie. Yep, Hamilton is making sure we get acquainted with all the core characters.

Ooh, yeah, enjoy the good things of life, be grateful for it, be happy. Those few aphorisms of positivity are rare but encouraging. What isn’t rare is all the action as the good guys battle the bad guys, as they try to figure out who the bad guys are! So many of the core characters are unique people, which drives the story with their unique issues and pasts and tackling the current events. Including the gay community. I love how Hamilton simply gives them a history without any judgments!

Yep, that ending is a cliffhanger . . . with a lot of loose ends: why those healed wounds keep bleeding, how this possession works as it switches back and forth, why the Sentinels are leaving the College, what’s going on with Jamie, the theft of totems, the demonic perfume bottle, and so much more.

And this appeals to my paranoid side what with all those secrets that exist within the College of Angels. Then there are all those hints Hamilton keeps dropping about Zaniel’s “sins” and the suspicions raised when he reunites with Suriel. Hmmm . . .

The Story

When Zaniel is called to the murder scene of a college student, all signs point to a murderer from the angelic realm, but a cryptic message from an angel warns Zaniel that the killer is something else entirely. Something that not even the all-knowing angels have a name for.

Now it’s up to Zaniel and his team to uncover what the murderer is — and how to stop it — before it can kill again.

When Zaniel’s past begins catching up with him and old wounds reopen, he realizes that Heaven and the College don’t let go of their messengers easily.

The Characters

Detective Corey Zaniel ‘Havoc’ Havelock, angel expert with a direct connection to Heaven who walked away from the College of Angels and a member of the Metaphysical Coordination Unit. Zaniel’s gift is speaking with the higher forms of angels without dying or going mad. Reggie, a high school teacher, is his angry wife — they’re separated. They have a three-year-old son, Connery. His great-aunt Matilda seems to have been a stern woman. There was a seraph in his life.

Metaphysical Coordination Unit, a.k.a., . . .
. . . the Heaven and Hell Unit, is part of the City of Angels PD in California and investigates supernatural-related crimes. Lieutenant Adinka Charleston is also a Voodoo Priest. Detective George Gimble is young and impressionable. Detective Lila Bridges is a strong woman and a powerful psychic null. (Lila has an ex-wife, Annie, and an ex-husband, Rob.) Detective Carlos Antero needs to get in shape. (Carla is his beloved wife.) Detectives MacGregor and Goliath MacGregor are the old one and the young one, respectively. The short Detective Raymond Stiltskin is a serious weightlifter. Officer Odette Minis rescued Havoc from Adam and is on a test run for the Unit. Detective Athena Ravensong is a Wiccan with a slew of totems and is second-in-command. She has a wife, Louie. (Ravensong’s great-aunt Lottie sounds pretty glamorous.) Her totems include a raccoon, a bear, a Goddess, and more.

Officer Miller responded at the hospital. Officer Sato saw through the angel wings. Richardson is with SWAT. Berger is a tech. Adam Thornton is the medical examiner’s assistant, and he has the social skills of a cranky rhinoceros, although he does have a very specialized type of remote viewing. Dr Trent is the medical examiner. Officer Stevens was a good guy.

The Metaphysical Injury Unit is . . .
. . . required in any hospital. Dr Paulson has tightly held shields. Ray Gonzales, Hazel Prescott, and Bunny are nurses. Belinda is a security guard. Kate is a patient whose great-great-great-grandmother had been Baba Yaga. It certainly adds color as to why Kate is in the hospital.

Becki Patterson is a female paramedic partnered up with Neil. Roger and Sam are another pair of paramedics.

The College of Angels is . . .
. . . more of a boarding school that keeps its students forever. I don’t think Ambriel survived. Cosmiel was another fellow student with pale skin and red hair. Master Donel is in charge of training the Sentinels, Angelus Extium, a.k.a. Angels of Destruction. Harshiel and Turmiel (Donel is Turmiel’s uncle) are two of the Sentinels. Donel also has a sister. Suriel “Surrie” is the only one of the three friends who stayed, and now she’s an Infernalist. Bachiel listens to thoughts of the human world. And I’ve got my suspicions about him. Master Sarphiel is into tea.

Jamie, a.k.a. Levanael “Lev”, a.k.a. Levi, was thrown out of the college when his abilities went haywire. I’m not thinking too highly of that college . . . He was/is Zaniel’s best friend, surviving on the streets. An orangutan is Jamie’s animal guide.

Angel Speakers, Angelus Dictum; Listeners (to Angels), Angeli Auditor; and, Angel of Light, Angelus Lucis, a.k.a. Lights, are some of the categories the students are separated into.

Abrahamic faiths are Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. Satan is also known as the Adversary, the Devil, the Enemy, Lucifer. An Infernal is a demon.

Harm None is . . .
. . . a metaphysical shop that offers magical therapy, and where Bast is the boss who’s has been active in the pagan community for over 40 years. Emma works there and does reiki and reads tarot. Emma’s brother is a doctor.

The Cozy Cauldron is a coffee shop partly owned by Harm None. Miranda is a flirt with some tips for Zaniel. Shelby Jackson and her boyfriend, Jeff, are targets.

Megan Borowski is an undergrad college student. Sergeant Macintosh had been Zaniel’s drill sergeant back in his army days. Dr Martin conducts couples therapy. Doris is the apartment manager at Zaniel’s building. Fred is Doris’ elderly pug; Donald and Charlie are the pug puppies. Totems, a.k.a. spirit guides, co-walkers, animal guides, are with you for days, months, years, your entire life.

Mark Cookson is on academic probation at University of California in the City of Angels (UCCA). “Sam” Cookson is his brother. Uh-huh.

The Cover and Title

I love the cover! It so accurately reflects the primary character with Zaniel/Havoc strolling across the pale gray background, as we look down at him from above, his shadow with wings and that gun he’s holding following behind him. At the very bottom is a slightly darker gray skyline. At the very top, in a dark gray, is an info blurb. The author’s name is vertical, crossing Zaniel’s wings and is in a deep red that darkens more where it intersects with the wings. In between and above Zaniel’s head is a testimonial in a blend of dark gray, and light burgundy. Below Zaniel’s feet is the title in dark gray. Below that is the series info in the light burgundy.

The title is more of an anticipation, as Hamilton exposes us to the potential of A Terrible Fall of Angels.

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