BLOOD AND FEATHERS by LOU MORGAN
PB, 373 pages, Solaris
The eons-old war between Heaven and Hell is given fresh blood in Lou Morgan’s explosive debut novel. Librarian-with-issues Alice arrives home from a bad day to find it’s about to get a lot worse. Two angels are waiting for her in the lounge; uptight, supercilious Gwyn and his Earthbound charge, Mallory, a leather-jacketed gun-toting sarcastic bastard with a temper and a drinking problem. Mallory takes Alice under his clipped wing, her guide into this new world of Archangels, Descended and the Fallen of Hell. The angels have big plans for Alice. Plans that will see her journey to the lowest depths of Hell as she comes to terms with her family history and her newly awakened powers.
“Blood and Feathers” is a pacy novel, packed with fistfights, gunfights, and an epic climactic battle. It’s also, for a book that deals with such heavy subjects as theology, faith and the End of Days, very funny, full of biting wit and dark humour. (Mallory gets all the best lines, but Alice more than holds her own.)
Morgan’s vision of Hell owes something to Dante, and to Milton, but she also stamps her own impressive mark on it. Her Hell is cold, with the kind of cold that freezes the eyeballs and seeps into the bones, and down to the soul itself. There are elaborate tortures for the damned, and for the Fallen angels that guard the colossal Gate of Bones from the hordes of avenging angels.
“Blood and Feathers” is a pleasingly ambiguous book. The angels may think they’re righteous, but they’re not always right – some of them are as corrupt, vengeful or ruthless as the Fallen they range themselves against, and not all of the Fallen are out-and-out evil. The justice that Heaven dispenses is summary and often unfair, more Mega City One than Elysium, and the novel is all the better for it.
The novel is the first in a trilogy, and a sequel, “Blood and Feathers : Rebellion” was released recently. The opener is very promising and it will be interesting to see how the war twists and turns.