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I Belong

Review: Archon by Sabrina Benulis

Title: Archon

Author: Sabrina Benulis

Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy

Series: The Books of Raziel (Book 1)

Publication Date: December 27, 2011

Format: Hardback, 385 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062069403 (Harper Voyager)

ISBN-13:  978-0062069405 (Harper Voyager)

Reviewed by: Sheila


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.

Quick & Dirty: A wild mix of angels and demons, each player having their own agendas, and the mortal with the power to destroy it all.  LOTS of details and subplots to follow making this more political than romance in its presentation.

Opening Sentence“That’s an incredible painting.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This book turned out to be a hard read for me.  There is an obscene amount of back story details and lots of little sub agendas for each character, that the overall story can get lost in the translation.  I had to read it twice through in order to really appreciate Archon.  This book, though worth it, will take a leap of faith on the reader’s part that things will begin to make some sense if you can just stick it out.

Angela Mathers is apathetic to life.  She has just been released from a mental institution and is about to start attending the Vatican’s prestigious West Wood Academy in Luz.  Accepted into the Academy not only because of her exceptional paintings of angels, but because she may be the One prophesized as the Archon; the Supernal Raziel reincarnated as a mortal and possible Ruin of the known world.  For someone not even interested in living, this seems far-fetched.  All she knows is that her dreams are haunted by two beautiful angels and she is unable to kill herself no matter how many times she tries.  But her personal concerns become unimportant with so many different people, demons, and angels testing her and speculating on whether she is the one they all have been waiting a millennia for.

This is where most people are going to start to lose interest.  There are too many different characters with too many agendas.  Some want to see the Archon come into power, some would rather kill the Archon before she comes into her power.  Is Angela the one foretold or isn’t she?  Even at the end of the book, this fundamental question is still there.  I have hopes that the series will start to make more sense as it progresses, because if the next book is like this one, I won’t continue reading it.

Although each character is strong, they are all basically flawed; which makes them far more relatable.  Stephanie Walsh is the queen of the school; full of confidence and attitude.  But she is still chained to her adopted mother’s approval.  Kim is the bad boy that Angela shouldn’t get involved with; but he is fragile emotionally and longs for Angela’s love.  Even the Supernal Israfel, who is one of the top three elite angels, has vulnerabilities that make him seem more “human.”  Each of the main characters has so much depth to them and too many secrets to do adequate justice to in this little book.  It almost needs an additional 400 pages to fully explore each player’s background and rationality.

The world itself is intoxicating.  The City of Luz and its inhabitants are a major draw for me.  An academy sponsored by the Vatican that encourages exploration of supernatural abilities outside their own Lexicon.  I love all the little details of the dilapidated classrooms and dorms; how the townsfolk deal with murders like they are commonplace.  Even the torrential and seemingly increasing violent weather are all indicative to the overall tension of the book.  It is these details that help balance out the endless barrage of plots and subterfuge by the characters, helping the reader gage the mounting tension that is rising toward the climax of the story.

One of the few things that I did not like about this book was Angela.  At first, she is only going through the motions of life.  She has no desire for anything other than her death.  By the end of the book, she is looking forward to what is coming next in her life.  So, where was the turning point for her having such a dramatic change of heart?  Was it her sacrifice of her dreams to call up a spirit of an angel?  Was it sleeping with her lover for the first time?  Was it meeting the angel of her dreams and realizing that he is really not all she made him out to be?  I’m not sure when it happens, but I am sure that it seems almost too drastic a change for it to be believable.  It feels like Angela isn’t reacting faithfully to her essential character.  I find it hard to relate to her as a person.

So, what is the Archon anyway?  I can’t give a good answer to that.  There are so many different interpretations offered about the prophecy, that no one has been 100 % correct.  I had hoped that it would become clearer at the end of the book but alas, it was not meant to be.  Perhaps the next few books offer what has been teased in this first one; a decent explanation to what all of this stuff means.  If you decide to take the plunge into Archon remember this: Don’t get caught up in the details and just let the book flow through you.  If you do that, it makes it a much more enjoyable read.

Notable Scene:

I don’t care if I’m the Archon or not.  I don’t have to open that damned Book to put Stephanie where she belongs.

In Hell.

She left the room, clattering down the steep staircase and along a hallway that emptied into the broken church.  Angela splashed through the pebbles, hardly even giving a damn about her surroundings.  Her brain burned like the stone around her neck, and it seemed to her that through that Eye, she could see the whole universe and everything in it, and how much it deserved to be in her hands rather than in those of a greedy, ignorant person like Stephanie.

This is my world.

Where was that thought coming from?  It was the voice that had reminded her how to subdue Troy, and its pitch and tone was still like her own, but much more forceful.  Briefly, Angela flashed back to that long-ago dream, when she’d stood before the angel who’d spoken to her so mysteriously.

Now she remembered at least a fraction of what he’d said, though she wasn’t sure how much sense it made.

For now, though, it seemed right to agree.

This is my world.  Time to enforce the rules.

The Books of Raziel Series:

1. Archon

FTC Advisory: HarperCollins provided me with a copy of ArchonNo goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  The only payment received came in the form of hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Review: Archon by Sabrina Benulis, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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