This month’s review is a little different because Angel Eyes was originally scheduled for the CSFF tour two months ago. By some incredible fluke, I, the sole Canadian member of the CSFF force, was also the only member to receive my review copy on time. Thus I read the book some time ago and am fuzzy on the plot details. (This never happens. I am way more likely to be the person who never gets a copy at all.) Yes, I should have written the review then. No, I didn’t.
But that’s okay; I have plenty to say anyway :).
Here’s the official plot description from Shannon’s website so you don’t have to rely on my fuzzy memory:
Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .
Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.
Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.
Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.
A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the Christian speculative fiction genre which gained so much traction with Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness in 1986 has come back around to spiritual warfare, angels and demons, in Shannon Dittemore’s trilogy. But comparison won’t take us far: Dittemore’s version of the intersection between realms is quite different from Peretti’s–in some ways more speculative, with more freedom just to imagine. Her angels wear halos, adopt human beings, and receive assignments from heaven in unusual ways. Her demons are in some ways more terrifying: the imagery of charred, wounded creatures constantly burned by the glory of God is frightening and powerful.
The earthly milieu is updated as well. Where Peretti’s novels found their villains in the New Age movement, Dittemore’s are embroiled in human trafficking and pornography. Brielle, the heroine, is haunted by the spectre of murder and relationships gone horribly wrong. Jake, the hero, knows the reality of child abuse and neglect. Both are tremendously sympathetic: teenage but aged beyond their years, trying simultaneously to take hold of real life again and to make a difference in their world. The romance between them is truly sweet, with the feel of something that truly could last forever.
Shannon handles her gritty and often dark subject matter with grace and balances it out with hope and light, too real to be saccharine. Angel Eyes is a great read and a promising start to the trilogy (the next two books are both coming this year).