January 16, 2012

Review: Angels of the Deep by Kirby Crow


I keep wondering if angels are the new vampires. This book was published in 2009 before angels became so in vogue, but still, I keep seeing more books dealing with the subject and this was one that kept showing up as a recommended read. I decided to read it because of its darker nature. I didn’t know what I was getting into.

The story is quite complex and filled with twists and turns, so I can’t go into many details, but the books is best described as a paranormal suspense. 

Becket Merriday’s life hasn’t been easy. Abandoned as a baby he was taken in by a local church where the priest in charge took care of him and a silent benefactor paid for all his expenses. The priest was a sick pedophile and so Becket grew up being molested and terrorized. One day an old lady shows up out of nowhere and tells Becket not to worry that everything is going to be all right. But just like that she disappears leaving behind a pendant that Becket would wear the rest of his life hanging around his neck as a sort of charm.  What he doesn’t know is that the old lady is an angel that’s been silently taking care of him, so when the priest dies he doesn’t suspect that she was responsible (the reader knows that she does it thanks to the first of many graphic scenes in the book).


Years later Becket’s life remains in a bad place. He quit a promising career as an FBI profiler and moved to a small town to be the Police Chief in order to save his marriage. But years have passed and he’s finally getting a divorce. Everything in his life is in shambles (the divorce, he’s on the verge of alcoholism and he doesn’t really care about his job) but the only constant is his partner, Lieutenant Sean Logan. There’s an obvious attraction there, and a dependence that goes beyond desire and friendship, but guilt and a ton of issues make it impossible for them to be together. And then the murders begin and his life gets even more complicated.

Unknown to Becket his life has just crossed paths with another angel, one that’s not as protective as the old lady who helped him years ago. Mastema is an avenging angel. Centuries ago some angels got involved with humans and the result were the Nephilim, half-human, half-angel babies that had a lot of power and the potential for evil. God send Mastema to kill the Nephilim and ever since then he’s been hunting them down. In the process Mastema became corrupted by power and evil and now someone has to stop him, that someone is Becket. So when poor, unexpected Becket, starts to investigate the mysterious and brutal murders he doesn’t know that the victims aren’t exactly human, and that the murderer is now after him.

I think I just barely managed to scratch the surface of a complex story. I’m having a hard time explaining what the book is about without giving anything away, but it isn't just a paranormal suspense where the hero fights the evil forces and falls in love with his hunky partner, yes, that happens, but the book is much more than that.

The world building is complicated and we get a lot of flashbacks told from Mastema’s POV that slowly allow us to see where he’s coming from and how it all relates to Becket. Mastema is a brutal character and an evil and scary villain, thus making this a brutal and scary book. If you don’t like gore and explicit violence then run for the hills because there’s a lot of that here. Child abuse, rape, murder, torture, all of that and more abounds in this book. One of the reasons I had mixed feelings about the story was because as compelling and intriguing as it was, I felt really uncomfortable with all the violence in it. Is it gratuitous? I don’t think so, it’s used to make a point about the characters and to explain why they have so many issues, but it was too much.

Mastema is just as important a character as Becket and he gets just as much, if not more, page time. When you get his whole story you realize that there was some depth to him but it was impossible to sympathize with him, to me he came across as just plain crazy, and his only redeeming quality, the fact that a long time ago he fell in love with one of the nephiliim, was not enough to make me feel sorry for him. I guess between the scene where he kills some children, and the scene where he rapes a poor woman, I lost all interest in finding if his secret pain was to blame for how bad he was.

Becket, on the other hand, was a fantastic anti-hero. He just wanted to be left alone and he struggles a lot through the whole book. I think he never really takes charge of his own destiny, even at the end when he decides to fight back, I think even that decision wasn’t really his own. Again, I’m not sure how I feel about this, on the one hand I loved that he was an unconventional lead, but on the other hand I think I expected more from him.

This is one hell of a vague review, I know, but I just can’t write a more detailed one without spoiling the plot, and this is one plot than needs to be uncovered. Yes, some parts were predictable, I saw coming everything about Becket’s past and even Sean’s, but the book is so dark that I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, and that’s part of its charm, if I give more details the reading experience won’t be the same.

There’s a love story somewhere among all the drama and violence. It was my favorite part of the book and I think it was very satisfying because the characters have to work to get their happy ending, and they have to work a lot. The sex was surprisingly mild, especially when compared to how graphic the violence was, and there’s not much of it, at least not between the leads. Besides the paranormal plot, there’s also all the issues concerning Becket’s failed marriage, so he needs to get over that first. There’s no struggle when it comes to their sexuality, Becket explains that he experimented a bit during college and that’s it, and the conflict of interest (Becket is Sean’s superior and co-worker) doesn’t play any role. I think there’s so much going on that one more drama would have been too much, and then that becomes a moot point once you get the whole picture, and overall the romance was just as twisted and different as the rest of the book.

One last thing I would like to point out. I’m not much for reading between the lines, I read novels for entertainment and pleasure, and I don’t like overanalyzing and overthinking them because I already do that on my job. When I read reviews that say things like: the story was racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc. I’m one of those who goes: Hum, I did not see that at all, let me read it again. On my second read I might see what the reviewer was talking about it, but it’s difficult for me to notice things like that on my own. Having said that, in this book the women were portrayed in less than positive ways: The Veil (one of the secondary characters that's not really human but has a female quality to it) isn’t really evil but manipulates everyone around her; another female character betrays her husband and can’t help herself; then there’s Beckett’s wife who is good and honest but clingy and ends up, well, HUGE SPOILER, seriously, is HUGE! I wouldn’t read it if I were you: raped and dead END OF SPOILER. So yes, there’s a slightly misogynistic vive coming from this book and it comes from the fact that the women in it are either helpless or of dubious intentions. Again, if you’re easily offended read something else.

This was undoubtedly a unique book. It was different to everything I read last year and it was interesting and compelling. However, it was confusing, there are lots of things going on and you need to pay attention. It’s definitely not for everyone and I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not. I can say that I read it all in almost one sitting because I wanted to know how it ended, but that’s about it. It’s a book that stays with you and one you want to talk about after reading it, but I have so many mixed feelings about the violence, some aspects of the plot and the ending, that I can’t give it a higher grading than 3.

Review by Brie
Sensuality: McBurning (mostly because of the amount of violence in it)
Grade: 3

Synopsis:

Becket Merriday is on the trail of a killer who is murdering beautiful young men in the small town of Irenic. What he discovers an ancient race of immortal beings hunted by an incredibly powerful adversary: the angel Mastema. Soon, Beck and his partner, Sean Logan, find themselves at the center of a deadly supernatural war.

MLR Press. April 05, 2009.

6 comments:

  1. Although gore and violence don't really bother me all that much I think I'd pass on this book. Although the back story about Beckett is interesting and kind of tragic, the rest of the story sounds way to complex and weird for me to enjoy easily. And I'm also one who doesn't really over analyze when reading.

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    1. I'm not bothered by violence either but there's something about this book as a whole that really got to me and at one point I wanted to say enough already! Too much violence.

      Becket's past was tragic and I loved that the author didn't take the easy way out and gave him a miraculous cure, he still struggled a lot with it and had to work on his issues.

      As I said, not for everyone, and yet it was intriguing and addictive!

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  2. I just finished a novel giving me real mixed feelings myself actually, but I haven't been able to even rate it yet. It does sound like it might be too much for me this one, even though I'm like Jade usually aren't bothered to much by it.. Hmm.. I'm still a bit intrigued though. And I do agree angels are coming in more and more, taking over from vamps! Great review. :)

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    1. Those are the hardest books to rate, I think. Because they have lots of good things about them but also some not-so-good ones... Judging by some of the books you have reviewed I think you may like this one, I you ever feel like reading something dark and slightly crazy you should go for it! Did you read the spoiler? I hope not because that part plays an important role in the book... But if you did you're still in for a wild ride!

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  3. I think you might be right about angels being the new vampires. Personally I'm craving a good ghost story but they seem to be as rare as hen's teeth at the moment.

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    1. Hi Susan!

      Have you read The Restorer by Amanda Stevens? I haven't read it but I think the main plot revolves around ghosts. It has great reviews and apparently is quite scary.

      I agree with you, though, ghost stories are nowhere to be found. Perhaps because you can have a ghostly hero and have a happy ending. Remember the movie Casper? I cried my eyes out when he got to be a boy just for the night but then had to go back to being a ghost.

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