False River

False River

False River by H.G. Reed (Fantasy/Paranormal)

Joe Lawson has sold his soul to the devil, who takes on human form as a seductive young woman known as Ellie May. Joe did so out of love ten years ago, to save the life of his wife-to-be, Catherine, and now Ellie May is back. She has a new, terrible demand he dare not refuse if he hopes to protect Catherine and their young daughter, Madeline.

What Joe doesn’t know is that his town is full of Others — angels and archangels who are aware of his predicament and there to help, if only he will ask. Once he does, angels and demons take up sides to do battle in his front yard, with the fate of Joe’s family riding on the outcome.

Having read the excellent archangel novel Fall From Grace by J. Edward Ritchie, I was intrigued with the premise of this one. The execution, however, was a disappointment.

Joe Lawson is a pretty tedious guy. He can’t really feel love without a soul, and so he hasn’t been a great husband or dad. The family farm — an apple orchard, of course — is dying in the throes of a drought, and he has given up hope of holding on much longer. He mulls over his desperate situation again and again, paralyzed by his lousy luck, making no progress whatsoever. Meanwhile, Catherine is not a sympathetic character; we never see her as anything other than angry at Joe. The archangels have their moments, but overall — with the exception of Gabriel and a brief cameo by an unlikeable Michael — they are pretty flat. The one lively, well-rounded character is the devil, Ellie May. She’s witty and unerringly evil. She knows why she hates mankind, and she is the one character we truly understand.

There’s inference that Madeline’s existence holds something akin to messianic importance for the future, but that is never explained. A sequel in the making, perhaps? Overall, with more inspired writing and the injection of a personality for Joe, this could have been a fun read, but mostly I was counting the pages until it ended.

Grandma gives False River three stars. 3 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Fall From Grace

Fall From Grace

Fall From Grace by J. Edward Ritchie (Fantasy)

Fall From Grace is a riveting fictional account of the heavenly schism that turns brother angels Michael and Satanail into arch enemies, destroys the peace and tranquility of heaven, and results in the emergence of Satan and the concept of eternal damnation.

Designated by the Creator as His Word and His Hand, respectively, Michael and Satanail are the most highly revered among the seven Seraphim — the highest order in the angelic hierarchy. In an environment free from discord, they have always maintained a good-natured rivalry built on mutual respect and brotherly love. But when the Creator reveals the existence of mankind only to Michael, Satanail is filled with resentment — an unfamiliar emotion he strives to contain. To make matters worse, Michael states that the Creator expects the angels to protect mankind from destroying itself. Satanail argues against such subservience, his anger boiling into rebellion and open defiance. Angels at all levels are forced to choose sides as a battle between good and evil commences.

J. Edward Ritchie has researched the religious and mythological lore of celestial beings to produce a fascinating, complex heavenly society populated by three-dimensional characters with strong personalities, unique capabilities, and credible emotions and motives. Satanail is a likeable individual, and his metamorphosis into Satan is not without internal conflict. The familiar archangels of my childhood — Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael — are among the seven Seraphim with dominion over seven regions of heaven, each contributing to the needs of the heavenly population known as the Host. Ritchie’s use of language is eloquent, in keeping with the nature of the story to be told, and he captured my interest from the very beginning. Battle scenes and other scenes do contain a fair amount of gory detail.

All in all, I found it to be a very satisfying book with a number of important messages, including this from Gabriel when Michael suffers from profound doubts about the decisions he has made: “I believe that we all have roles in this life. Maybe they’re not the ones we’d hoped for, maybe we even stray from them, but they’re ours to own. So we do it, because that’s what needs to be done. Those who can’t understand that will always be followers, never leaders.”

Grandma gives Fall From Grace five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy from the author in return for an honest review.