This debut YA novel sees an angel without wings strive in a competitive society and learn its secrets along the way.
Thirteen-year-old Gabriel Perez, unlike most people in Celestia, was born without wings. He’s been raised by his Grandma since his father abandoned the family early on and his mother died when he was 2 years old. Despite these setbacks, Gabriel hopes to one day become the ruling archangel of Celestia. But he must first gain admittance to the Holy Guild, where he may learn to master his superspeed ability, known as Quicksilver, and stand a chance competing for the ruling spot. Soon Gabriel discovers that he did not get into the Holy Guild, which means he’ll likely continue polishing wings for a living. But he does meet Raziel Kor, another teen, who explains that clip-on wings, invented by his father at Angel Innovates, can be purchased. Later, Gabriel gets a notice from the Z Guild that because another student withdrew, he’s been accepted. Gabriel then obtains wings, finally takes flight, and feels like his “soul has been set free.” While traveling home that night, Gabriel is accosted by a “cloaked, black angel” with claws and no visible face. Could this ravenlike creature be responsible for the angels missing from the Northern Quarter? In this fantasy series opener, Scott unfolds the layers of Celestia in neat stages, giving the characters and the narrative space to develop. Gabriel eventually joins the Holy Guild, but how this happens involves a single twist among many. Classmates Ariel Bluestone, Swati Mehra, and Cael Kutch become instrumental to the plot in their own ways. Gabriel’s easy access to his personal hero, Ruling Archangel Michael Hunter, illustrates the hermetic, though bracing, worldbuilding. Readers may chuckle at the ubiquity of “pagers,” which are essentially smartphones. It’s also vaguely fascistic that Celestia is ruled by whomever wins a fighting tournament. Nevertheless, the primary message is “Being different isn’t a curse….It’s a responsibility to bring only what you can do to the world.” The finale upsets the status quo, energizing the next volume.
A crisp, stylized fantasy with plenty of surprises.