I knew I was going to like this, but even I hadn’t anticipated how much. I’ve liked all of Olivia’s books in the past and so I just opened this one up without knowing what the inspiration for the book was.
Okay. So, just one look at my name and you may figure I’m a fan of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s book, Good Omens. You would be correct, reader.
Gadriel is a fallen angle who specializes in petty temptations. They’re not trying to bring down humanity, they just want to make sure we’re enjoying it sufficiently. They’re still a “fallen” angel, though, so they were surprised when their sibling, Barachiel, shows up and WANTS them to try and tempt a human into sinning. Just a little bit of sinning. This human, Holly, has lived such a joyless life that even the “good” angels are like, okay, wtf, that woman needs some happiness, STAT.
In this world, which is essentially just our own + confirmed angels, sin and good deeds are measured in a way that reminds me a tad of The Good Place. When you sin you get negative points, and when you do something righteous or selfless/good, you gain some points. Chocolate is technically considered a sin, although Gadriel thinks that’s an injustice and has been fighting for centuries about it. Anywho, Gadriel accepts the mission since it will set her square with the angel, which as I understand has been outstanding for quite some time and they’re happy to be rid of the debt. What they hadn’t anticipated is how hard it would be to get Holly to sin.
This is a small scale story focused on people and their relationships, there really aren’t high stakes so your mileage may vary, but I found this so charming. This is also what sets it apart from Good Omens, this is like if you took day and life of Good Omens before the end of the world was nye. It’s a slice of life fantasy that was like a balm to my soul. I had actually read this a while ago, back when I had put my dog down just a few days prior, and it was the first time I had smiled in days. I didn’t necessarily laugh out loud, but it was just pleasant and warming the whole way through.
The world is more or less based around the modern day without a whole lot added to it other than the religious aspect of angels being real and all that. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I didn’t personally mind since that’s fairly common when you’re writing kind of a biblical fantasy satire kind of thing.
The writing is what I found most impressive. It is so hard to carry this kind of a tone without going too far and overworking and overburdening the prose. I think it’s so ambitious to try and be Good Omens adjacent, but create something unique to you and your voice, and not fall on your face.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who likes smaller scale stories, warm cozy stories, and some wit with their prose.
- Plot: 12/15
- Characters: 14/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 15/15
- Pacing: 15/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Enjoyment: 10/10
Final Score: 90/100 or 9/10 for SPFBO
I really enjoyed the story of Gadriel and Holly Harker. It definitely gave me the same vibe as Good Omens, obviously, which I think was actually the intent here. The whole ‘Good And Bad Angels In London Doing Shenanigans’ theme is there, obviously, but this one was a bit… lighter. More of a Slice of Life sort of story, in my opinion. I liked Gadriel as a character, in that they are just trying to do what they can with what they have. They have a job, and it is to tempt Holly specifically into sinning, but they try and do so carefully, with small nudges. I liked how the angels had no set gender and just decided day by day what they felt like. That was a great little addition to the story.
The writing was great, the footnotes were often hilarious, and Rafe Beckley gave this book a fantastic narration. I enjoyed every minute I had with this audiobook. 9/10 stars!
FINAL SCORE 9/10 FOR SPFBO