PJ Mordant's When Angels Fear
When angels fear is, at its heart, an abuse survivor’s tale. It is dressed in horror and there are fantasy elements and paranormal elements, but it nevertheless circles around to its main theme – that of abuse survival and the associated feelings of guilt and rage and despair that go hand in hand with said situation. It is as relevant today as it has ever been, and PJ has added the fantastic elements in to highlight her standpoint, not to detract from it.
The voice is predominantly British, there are regional accents and slang words and mannerisms that can only exist in a person immersed in the culture, where a cup of tea is the standard answer all and where the police force are referred to as “bumbling” – and who do not have weapons. The voice is smooth, confident, and the plot is well thought out.
The reveal of the supernatural, that angels walk the earth, did come as something of a shock. Though the reader is aware that something supernatural is occurring, the presence of Angels is a confirmation of the validity of one particular religion, and therefore one doctrine. All ok, of course, but made more questions than it answered. If we accept that angels are real, and we accept that a curse is also real, that implies that other religions are as real and valid also? If Angels are sent to earth to contain a curse, but not actively stop it, might it not also be a valid conclusion to suggest that other religions are also true? How did a curse exist? Who made it? And what power did whoever made it have? Who made the holder of the curse’s final resting place, and how did they know how to construct such a device?
There are enough questions threads here that are tied of nicely that the reader is satisfied with the conclusion to the tale, and there are enough dangling threads to prompt a belief that this is just the first in the series. Character development on the MC was good, as was the character development on Will the priest. I would like to see more of the doctor in the next book - who doesn’t like a grumpy but heartfelt Scot?
But to bring this nicely together, the real story, as I suggested earlier, is abuse survival. Survivors guilt was explored well here, as was the approach of forgiveness, of self. It is hard not to empathize with a damaged character that struggles to find herself once more, but the dialogue between all of the characters seemed well done, and the mystery was complex enough to keep the reader guessing until the reveals were made.
It was a good book to relax with, and though I was not “scared” of the horror elements inside the book, that is more a reflection of my own predilection to horror.
There – see, Polly. I can use a few big words too.