An elaborate tale connects humanity’s present to a mythological past.
Chiera (Cursed Bloodline, 2013) weaves myth, faith, and fantasy together in his debut novel, the beginning of a projected series about a battle between angels on Earth. Almost entirely exposition, this installment names the primary characters and lays the groundwork for a conflict to come. The tale, rooted in the apocryphal book of Enoch, tells the story of 200 “Watchers,” angels assigned by God to chaperone the Earth in the immediate aftermath of the fall of man. These angels fall in love with 200 earthly women and disobey God to marry, reproduce, and live an Earth-bound life. When present-day people start having visions of these “Watchers,” it becomes clear that something is amiss. Slowly, an ensemble cast of characters emerges. Adam Laclair, a paramedic, and David, a firefighter, both have increasingly vivid dreams about gods and angels. Father Hogan, an experienced but jaded priest, and Louisa Natale, a paranormal psychotherapist, struggle to interpret a troubled parishioner’s recurring dream. Fate brings some of these characters together through chance encounters so they can begin to make sense of whatever may be happening to them. Through these visions and two lengthy lectures from Hogan, Chiera gradually explains that Watchers and their descendants account for every mythological figure in history, from Amon to Quetzalcoatl to Satan to Zeus. If nothing else, the claim is an ambitious creative project. The conceit works best through the visions of Adam and David, where the author abandons the 21st century to narrate mythology; Chiera uses fantastical imagery well. The dialogue between contemporary characters, however, is stilted. “Would you like to hear it from the beginning when God speaks to Satan?” Hogan asks Natale. “It would be a good refresher and gives me something to relate in my sessions with those who dream or have visions of ancient times.” Conversations like these allow Hogan to explain the complicated background necessary for the conflict. Unfortunately, readers interested in that clash will have to wait for the next book; it is almost entirely absent from this one. While there is a sense of looming disaster throughout the narrative, it never comes to fruition. This novel is all about setting the stage.
A slow, sprawling fantasy about angels on Earth.