Book Review: Walking in the Midst of Fire by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Posted May 15, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Walking in the Midst of Fire by Thomas E. Sniegoski

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

Walking in the Midst of Fire by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Roc on August 6, 2013
Pages: 353
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Remy Chandler has finally reached a kind of peace between his true angelic nature and the human persona he created for himself so very long ago.

But that peace can’t last — Heaven and the Legions of the Fallen still stand on the brink of war. Then one of Heaven’s greatest generals is murdered, and it falls to Remy to discover who — or what — might be responsible for the death, which could trigger the final conflict...a conflict in which Earth will most certainly be the beachhead.

The deeper he digs, the further he goes into a dark world of demonic assassins, secret brothels, and things that are unsettling even to a being who has lived since time began. But it is not in his nature — angelic or human — to stop until he has found the killer, no matter the personal price.

Also by this author: A Deafening Silence in Heaven, The Demonists, Dark Exodus

Sixth in the Remy Chandler urban fantasy series and revolving around an angel tired of Heaven and its wars who has lived as a human and works as a private investigator. The series is based in Boston.

My Take

I do adore this series. Sniegoski has such a different take on angels with this. An angel who hates the politics, wars, and powermongering in Heaven and is still beloved by God. It’s such a contrast with those angels who are so uppity and arrogant, who believe they know what God wants and tread all over anyone to achieve what is actually their own goals. Talk about the sin of pride!

That said, while I enjoyed the idea of this story, it also irritates me. The ideas Sniegoski comes up with are fascinating, and yet in this story, the presentation, the writing, is too blunt, too obvious in the decadence to which Aszrus has descended, the excessive reactions of the angels and how they leap to conclusions, Prosper and his whorehouse, and the reactions to the children. It’s like using a sledgehammer to pound in a picture nail.

An angel who needs love, “Remy needed to love, and needed the love of another to truly live.

“And really, wasn’t that the truth for just about everyone?”

The prologue sets the scene in Jericho of 26 A.D. and introduces us to Simeon. A man betrayed by Jesus. It certainly gives you a different perspective on the attraction of immortality.

In Walking in the Midst of Fire, Sniegoski goes back and forth in time as he follows Simeon and Remiel through the ages. Simeon spends his life, lives?, learning as much as he can that he may fulfill his particular dreams of vengeance while Remiel is primarily remembering his encounter with Pope Tyranus.

I’m rather confused about Montagin. He starts off so arrogant and snotty, and when assaulted by a scene of murder, he falls apart. He’s an angel for christ’s sake. He’s been around for millennia. How can he possibly be that much of a weiner to fall apart like this?

I can understand why Remiel left Heaven after the Great War if all the angels are this imperious and ignorant. I have to agree with Remy, and I’m feeling a bit smug that these haughty angels who have ostracized Remy for what he’s done are indulging in the same thing. No, no, indulging is the wrong word. It needs to have more depth, more decadence. And at least Remy is polite; he treasures human beings. Not the angels. Makes me wonder if there’s any real difference between Heavenly angels and the Morningstar’s.

Interesting theory about what existed before God became aware of himself. I wonder if this idea will be part of the series further on?

Sniegoski was tricky in this. Leading me to believe one thing only to have it reversed on me, leaving me with my jaw hanging open. There’s a section as well, where we first meet Gareth, that is totally confusing. You may want to mark it and go back and re-read it once you’ve finished the story. It makes more sense when you know everything.

The Story

Denied his place in Heaven, denied death, Simeon is determined to prevent anyone from enjoying a Heaven.

Meanwhile, back in today’s Boston, Steven is reaching out to Remy even as the Vatican itself does. A touch that will trigger Remy’s memories of Pope Tyranus and give meaning to his refusal to work with the Keepers.

The Characters

Remy Chandler is a private detective getting over the loss of his beloved wife, Madeline. He’s also, Remiel, “an angel of the host Seraphim”. Marlowe is Remy’s black Labrador with whom he can converse. Linda Somerset is the woman he’s currently dating and with whom he’s falling in love.

Detective Steven Mulvehill is a Boston homicide cop and one of the few humans Remy truly calls friend. He and Remy haven’t really spoken since events in A Hundred Words for Hate, 4, freaked Steven out.

Francis is a fallen Guardian angel (Fraciel) on parole, so to speak. God gave him to the angelic host, the Thrones, and he acted as their assassin, killing anyone they thought was a threat to Heaven. Angus Heath is a sorcerer Remy had been forced to work with in In the House of the Wicked, 5. Now he’s a cook at Methuselah’s. Squire is a hobgoblin who can use the shadows to travel where he will.

Constantin Malatesta is a Keeper, part of an organization with the Vatican. A man with some mad magic skills used at great cost as he must battle the Larva. Patriarch Adolfi is one of the leaders of the Keepers.

Aszrus is a general of the Heavenly legions and has been on earth much too long. Montagin is Aszrus’ aide. Bridget Worthington and Marley are blind servants in Aszrus’ earthly home. Neal Moreland at Elite Limousine frequently drove the general.

Israfil is the Angel of Death. Dardariel, Gromeyl, and Sengael are angels who wish to speak with Aszrus. The Archangel Michael has no problem breaking his word and torturing others.

The island of Gunkanjima
Gareth is the eldest of the orphaned children, recently come into his gift. Mavis, Kitty who controls ghosts, and Apple who is able to temporarily suppress Malatesta’s demon are some of the other orphans.

A Bone Master is a demonic assassin. They bond with a genetically engineered animal that is killed to reveal the bone weapon the assassin will use. The Liege Masters are their trainers.

The Lemuel Institute was a notorious nut house. LeeAnne is a nurse in its heyday. It’s exactly the type of place where a charnel house will arise. A supernatural whorehouse. This one, Rapture, is run by Prosper, a Denizen; his angelic name had been Puriel. Morgan, Natalia, and Bobbie are Nephilim, the offspring of angel and human, playthings who work for Prosper. Charlie is the zombie doorman. Luke and Tony are more zombie security.

Jessica is a waitress at Loca, and Sarah is the bartender. Methuselah’s is another type of bar, one that caters to the supernatural and owned by Methuselah himself. Katie is one of its waitresses. Phil, a minotaur, is its doorman. Old Dottie is a homeless woman who takes to Marlowe.

1349, England
Pope Tyranus is the ill-mannered Holy Father who requires Remiel’s services.

1301, England
Ignatius Hallow is a necromancer who deals in black magick.

Jericho, 26 A.D.
Jesus of Nazareth is working his miracles, “to see if he could”.

Simeon died and blissfully arrived in Heaven. It was glorious. But then he was pulled him back to reality, an act more painful than dying. Beleeze, Dorian, and Robert (formerly Tjernobog) are only some of the demons bound to serve Simeon.

Lucifer Morningstar was the angel who rebelled, and now he’s returned to Tartarus. The Black Choir is composed of “angels who chose not to take a stand during the Great War”. Denizens are fallen angels who served time in Tartarus and then were sent “to earth to serve out the remainder of their penance”.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a collage of events with the Black Choir and the Bone Masters on the far left, the prison walls on the right with Remy off center, his wings unfolded, and a flaming sword in his right hand. It’s a dark cover, dark with browns, blacks, and grays. A nice touch with Remy’s white shirt drawing your eye directly to him. And I’m most grateful for the fine print that tells me to which series this book belongs.

The title is both metaphor and truth, as Remy and the orphans are Walking in the Midst of Fires of Heaven as well as the threat of what is to come.

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