In Conspiracy of Angels, Michelle Belanger presents a gripping fantasy of angels, demons, and awesome powers. Belanger’s incredibly detailed imagery instantly immerses you in the angelic earth that she has created.
Zachary Westland wakes up on the side of Lake Erie with no memories. He is left with only psychic visions of death and violence and a business card to the mysterious Club Heaven, in order to discover who he really is. He is confronted with the consequences of the sinister blood wars and the complex relationship between the four tribes of Angels trapped on earth. With his girlfriend, his memories, and some dangerous mythical relics missing, Zach is forced to ally with his the soft-spoken Remiel, the fierce Lilianna, and the manipulative Saliriel. Zach is racing against time to both stop the collapse of a fragile peace between the angelic tribes and remember what his role in the oncoming storm is meant to be.
I have to admit, when I read the first sentence of the book, I was slightly disheartened as generally I dislike novels written in first person, as they limit the narrative perspective and do not tend to allow for sub-plot. However, in the context of this novel, the use of first person perspective works extremely well, as it allows the reader to experience the confusion that Zach is experiencing as a result of his amnesia and discover every plot twist with the protagonist.
I liked the fact that so much of the mythology of the novel is rooted in Egyptian mythology and Judaeo-Christian traditions, as well as large amounts of Science-Fiction. I also found Berlanger’s decision to give Zach the power to sense violence and death very interesting as it allows the novel to be a more mature than perhaps you would expect from the premise.The most memorable moment in the novel is Zach psychically sensing the final moments of a domestic abuse victim.
The greatest strength of the novel is Belanger’s excellent characterisation, particularly of her female characters. I especially loved Saliriel. Firstly, because she is so wonderfully Machiavellian and you are never quite certain as to where her true allegiances lie or what her true motives towards Zach are. Secondly, because Belanger has taken the bold decision to include a transgender woman as a main character and to make her scheming and manipulations a more prominent feature of her character than her gender identity.
Furthermore, Lilianna is a fantastically engaging character and I loved the fact that Belanger allows Zach to bluntly accept the fact that Lilianna is more courageous and daring than he is throughout the novel. I was impressed that although there are references to past romantic relationships, Lilianna is not used prominently as a romantic interest for the main protagonist.
I also loved the twisted humor of the novel and although some of the most humorous lines are not repeatable here, I particularly loved the moment in which Zach is attempting to start a motorbike barefoot and considers the pain that it is going to cause him.
Doing it while barefoot ranks right up there with rappelling down razor wire or wrestling a rabid porcupine.
I really liked the novel and I will certainly be reading the sequels. I encourage all older Harry Potter fans to read it!
A copy of the book was provided by the publisher for review.