An odd, science fiction/fantasy hybrid from the author of the 1995 paperback The Shape-Changer's Wife. Flying angels have been ordained by the god Jovah to watch over the people of Samaria. At the next Gloria, or festival of song, the angel Gabriel will take over the duties of archangel from old Raphael, so he asks the oracle Josiah, who Jovah has decided will be his bride. Josiah announces that Gabriel's bride shall be Rachel. But when Gabriel goes to claim her, he finds the remote village long destroyed, with no sign of Rachel. Then, quite by accident, he comes upon her in the house of a rich nobleman, where she is a slave. Though Gabriel plucks her from slavery, the two fight at once, since Rachel sides with the servants and Samaria's downtrodden folk and distrusts angels; neither will she reveal whether she can sing, a talent vital to a successful Gloria (Gabriel, of course, sings like a dream). Raphael, meanwhile, no longer believing in Jovah, refuses to watch over the people and encourages every sort of wickedness; to prevent the Gloria, he is willing to capture or even kill Rachel. Gabriel, who knows that Jovah will hurl firebolts should the Gloria fail, has other ideas. And the big question remains: Will Gabriel and Rachel ever stop fighting and get together? Taut, inventive, often mesmerizing, with a splendid pair of disaffected, predestined lovers. Only in the final quarter does Shinn's control slip into flabby, annoying repetitions. Highly encouraging work overall.