Angel City (Angelus Trilogy 2) by Jon Steele
Corgi, a division of Transworld, 538pp standard paperback, £8.99 cover price
£4.99 on Kindle (Jan 2016)
Reviewed by Alex Bardy (Twitter: @mangozoid)
I struggled with Angel City a lot, despite what promised on paper to be a great story — we have here a battle between the angelic forces of light and dark across time and space, and huge chunks of it set in the underground tunnels of Paris, so what’s not to like? Well, the writing for a start, but we’ll come back to that.
I believe this is the second volume in the Angelus Trilogy (the first one was called The Watchers), although to be fair to the author it’s not at all obvious that’s the case, and thus Angel City should be able to stand on its own merits, so I’ve tried to review it as such.
The issue here is not necessarily with the plot or the ideas — all of which are pretty strong I think — but more with the characters and the writing itself. There are two main stories at work here, one follows Jay Harper, a seemingly earthbound angel who is our main protagonist and tasked with all manner of jobs and duties by one Inspector Gobet (who reminded me of the Illusive Man from Mass Effect 3 throughout); the other follows Katherine Taylor and her two year old son, Max, as they live their lives out in a fantasy-esque world protected by her would-be lover and lifelong companion, one Officer Jannsen (aka Anne) and a detachment of the Swiss Guard…
I found a lot of the Katherine thread quite boring, and even when it seems to get going two-thirds of the way through, struggled to maintain my interest, although the shocking end does sucker punch you somewhat when you do finally get there.
Ditto, Jay Harper’s story thread too, to be honest — he’s certainly an action-man of sorts, but most of the time it just failed to catch or ignite my interest. And again, especially in the last third or so of the book, I started losing my way when the author took one too many opportunities to ‘info-dump’ by leveraging Jay’s flash memory ability far too often (instantly recalling detailed histories and such-like from The History Channel no less — no kidding!)
For me, Angel City simply didn’t work, and I can only apologise to fans of the series — in hindsight, maybe I should’ve read The Watchers first before tackling this one after all, but on this performance I don’t have any immediate urge or desire to explore what may or may not have gone before.
* This review originally appeared on the British Fantasy Society (BFS) website here