Review copy provided by Harper Collins
Description from Goodreads:
Angela Mathers is plagued by visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night. Newly released from a mental institution where she was locked away for two years, she hopes that her time at the Vatican’s university, the West Wood Academy, will give her a chance at a normal life. Unlike ordinary humans, Angela is a blood head — a freak, a monster, the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy of overwhelming death and destruction. Only in Luz, the Vatican’s wondrous enclave, are blood heads accepted and encouraged to discover what kind of powers or special abilities they might possess.
But within West Wood, a secret coven plots, and demons and angels roam the streets searching for the key to open Raziel’s book — a secret tome from a lost archangel. Some are determined to destroy Raziel, while others, like the beautiful Supernal Israfel, one of the highest of the high, wish to free him. And when the Archon — the human chosen to possess the spirit of a dead angel — rises as foretold, they will control the supernatural universe.
Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, Angela holds the key to Heaven and Hell — and both will stop at nothing to possess her.
The world of Archon is a strange and dark version of our own, I think. Some things seem familiar but with a darker, more sinister feel. This is a world where "blood heads" - redheads are viewed with fear and suspicion because of a prophecy. Angela Mathers has had a tough life - apparently due mostly to her being a blood head. Her parents abuse her, she has vivid dreams of one angel over and over, and she can't die - or more accurately, she can't kill herself. She is institutionalized for two years after her latest attempt at suicide which ended with the death of her parents. Despite her abuse, Angela is a pretty strong and sympathetic heroine.
My impression of Luz, where Angela goes to school, was of darkness, decay, rot, mildew, violent winds and storms. Basically, not a cheery place. It seems like the perfect location for such a dark story. There are angels, demons, jinn and other creatures in the story. No one is exactly what they seem or in some cases, some are not even what they think they are. Angela, and consequently, the reader, is never sure who is human, demon, angel, possessed or whatever. While this can be a bit confusing at times if the reader is not paying attention, I thought it actually worked by helping to illustrate how completely differently angels and demons view the world from how humans themselves see things. The lines between who is good and who is evil are very blurred as well.
I found the depiction of the angels in this book to be very interesting and captivating. They are very different from angels I've encountered in other books. I found this aspect to be quite intriguing. I was left with many questions about where the story is headed, what will happen to Sophia and what Angela will do next. Since this is the first of the series, I am looking forward to finding the answers in the next books. While this did feel like a debut book, I think there is so much potential with this series, that I will be looking for the next book when it is published.
One last note - the cover art for this book is really just so beautiful. I think it is one of the best of the year.