Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Mary Ann Loesch's blog tour for Nephilim! If you're new to the site, we hope you take a look around, perhaps enter our Spooktacular Giveaway Hop contest and see what we have to offer. To learn more about Ms. Loesch, you can check out her website at MaryAnnLoesch.com. Now on to our review.
Mary Ann Loesch
Lyrical Press Inc. (2011)
I judge books by covers. This is not some deep dark secret I've been hiding. I pick up books for pretty or weird or interesting covers. Ones with boring, blah or bodice-ripping romance covers, I tend to shy away from. So why in the hell did I choose to become part of the book tour for Mary Ann Loesch's Nephilim? I honestly don't remember. Based on cover alone, this was going to be eye-rollingly bad. Add in my recent problems with all books involving angels and I think I might have been sleep computing when I signed up for this. All rational thought should have told me I would hate this book and I hate writing bad reviews.
I'm happy to say that that cover does not go on the front of this book. Outside one sex scene of the "foreplay - fade to black - wake up the next morning" variety, this book wasn't a romance novel. This was an interesting murder mystery that happened to involve angels there were kind of badass. Faye, the female protagonist, also wasn't one to sit around and rely on the heavily muscled, greased up guy from the cover to protect her. Even when she did something I usually consider being stupid with other female protagonists, it didn't bother me so much because she had super angelic powers to use against the bad guy.
Before I go on, let me just say - FINALLY! ANGELS I WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH! Thank you Ms. Loesch for breaking me of my horrible emo doe-eyed angel curse! I read this in two sittings!
Faye is a nephilim, daughter of the angel Raphael and a human woman. Her parents and fiancé were killed in an accident seven years before which she blamed on the angels, primarily her unofficial guardian Azal. Being a nephilim she kind of has superpowers, primarily of the healing variety. Azal eventually reenters her life and sends her to check up on Nathan Ink, an angel that might have gone rouge. He's a tattoo artist whose clients have a tendency to die soon after leaving his shop. I'm pretty sure this makes him the worst tattoo artist ever. Then again, his tattoos also have a tendency to move, speak and taunt their wearers, so perhaps Nathan has infused his ink with acid. Wouldn't that have been an interesting twist...
Yes, the cheese can get a bit knee-deep in places, particularly when it came to the whole ink motif. Naming your tattoo artist angel Nathan Ink? Really? Considering his previous human background - as a 16th century Spanish gypsy - I'm thinking his name wasn't always Nathan and isn't having the last name Ink a little too on the nose? But once you get past the eye rolling caused by a few details like that, things move at a fast clip and there were a few times when I was honestly surprised in the direction the story went.
The bad guy - whose name I will not use because I feel it gives some things away - is insane, creepy and everything a crazed stalker serial killer should really be. He also happens to have a magic knife. Yes, a magic knife. Then there's God, who wanders around and shows up at key moments to offer guidance while wearing the guise of an old lady. The glee I had at God's first appearance cannot be described. Old lady God was awesome even though her appearances were sparse. I also enjoyed the explanation regarding who and what Lucifer is in this universe. I felt it was clever and unusual compared to what he's often used for in other angelic forms of pop culture.
This all takes place in Austin. Yes, the place where I live. This both helped and hurt the story in my eyes, though for reasons that wouldn't affect anyone not familiar with the downtown Austin area. When a book takes place in a real city that I'm not only familiar with, but very fond of, I tend to get overly picky and want all the details to match up with reality. This, of course, is difficult, especially in a downtown where bars and clubs often change their names on a yearly basis. Still, I had a few occasions where I might have twitched a little when geographical information didn't match up to what I know. It might also be from not liking the idea that there might be a crazy serial killer in my city... even if it is just fiction.
I think my biggest issue, though, was with the constant nagging about free will versus predestined fate. Often times it felt like the characters had no other subject to discuss despite the fact there was a serial killer who could run around invisible chasing after the main character. No, let's sit around and argue about free will. The first few times it fit in, particularly with Faye's investigation of Nathan and his tattoo shop o' death, but once all the players clearly ended up on the side of good or evil, it became a little less useful or fitting to what was going on. The bad guy is evil. He's evil because he chooses to be, not because of a predestined fate though his genetics might have fated him to being kind of insane. I got it.
I also found myself feeling that I'd missed an entire book for the first half of Nephilim. Loesch eventually gets the entire back story in, but key references to Faye's background and her relationship with Azal and the other angels always felt like vague references to a previous novel. I actually got online to check to make sure this wasn't the second in a series, but it isn't. It's the first in a series and, based on the twist of the ending (which I liked and found intriguing), I'm not really sure in which direction the series will end up going. Nephilim felt complete to me, not the beginning of an ongoing tale.
Any issues I had with the story - whether it is in the constant discussions of free will or my distraction at feeling I'd missed a novel - disappeared once the bad guy received his comeuppance. I'm not going to spoil it because it was honestly the most amazing and surprising detail of the whole story. All I will say is that it is incredibly disturbing and absolutely hysterical. I think this book bumped up a letter grade on that piece alone.
To be honest, this book might have entertained me so much because it reminded me in places of Supernatural. The snarky angels, the magic knife, the "angel snare" (aka the ring of holy fire that the Winchesters use against angels), and the occasional explosion of ash like substance from Faye's body all reminded me of my favorite show. That isn't to say that this book doesn't stand up on its own merits. It's a fast, entertaining read that gets bogged down in its own dogma at times, but it has more redeeming qualities that annoyances.
As I've written this review, that cover image has been staring at me from the side of my computer screen. Who thought that was a good idea? Bodice ripping romance fans are going to be disappointed by the lack of, well, bodice ripping, and readers severely allergic to romance novels, like me, would usually avoid this book like the plague. At least put a shirt on the guy. I mean, really!
Fast paced storytelling with fun characters and a pretty cool bad guy; no emo angels here; interesting take on certain parts of angel mythology; first in the series, but feels like the complete story
Side note: My spellchecker wants to change "nephilim" to "necrophilia". At seven in the morning, this amuses me.
An electronic copy of this book was provided to me by the author in return for an honest review.