Happy Monday everyone! Two different reviews for you today.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
A Game of Wings and Marks by Rebecca Crunden
Synopsis From The Book
When Octavia Coal goes to the mountains to clear her head, she doesn’t expect to find an angel in trouble.
He tells her his name is Tamiel and he’s one of the Irin – the army of angels tasked with keeping demons from overwhelming humanity. But Tamiel broke a sacred law – he fell in love with a human – and now he’s being hunted by the same angels he once served.
With nowhere else to go, Octavia and Tamiel – along with Jack, the human in question, and her brother Caleb – appeal directly to Zev, the Demon of Games. A trickster of unparalleled power, Zev gives nothing for free, and the gift he offers Octavia to keep Tamiel alive comes with a confusing catch: He makes her the Healer of Raphael, archangel and Commander of the Irin.
Suddenly a target for both angels and demons, Octavia quickly learns that the only way to survive is to play the game better than they do.
The only problem is, she doesn’t know whose game she’s playing …
Fantasy – Paranormal Romance | A – PW | Miscarriage, Angels and Demons, Manipulation, Talk of genocide and murder, exorcism | What Would You Do For Love, Games, Lies and Truth,
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I got this request from the author back in March to read her novel. I always have a bit of apprehension reading pdfs and the likes, because I tend to not be as engaged as a book in my hands. However the premise seemed interesting enough that I thought, that I could read it online. I’ve kept away from reviews, so that I can make this as honest as I can. So let’s go!
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Alright, so I finished it. Ultimately, I didn’t hate it nor love it. There were so many things I did love, and then some things that just took me out completely. It is, however, a really quick read. And I am really interested in this particular world. Also the title of the book is really clever, imo.
Octavia finds Tamiel in the woods, dying, and tortured — she believes. She takes him to her house and she and her brother patch him up a bit, he then has her take him to a guy named Jack. Jack heals Tamiel, and Octavia learns about the angels and demons of the world. They go to Blood and Bone, to try to get help from the demon Zev, since Tamiel is being hunted to be killed. He fell in love with Jack which is the biggest law for angels. Zev saves Tamiel at Octavia’s behest, by connecting her to Raphael as his healer. Tamiel is exiled, instead of killed and now Octavia has to learn more about being a healer and the likes.
She learns more about the angels, from Jack and Raphael. She is saved from her ex-boyfriend by Raphael, and the two go closer. When he almost dies, she makes a deal with another demon and becomes his slave. Zev saves her from that and tells her that he wants her heart. She and Raphael speak on her relationship with Zev, and Octavia thinks to try because she can’t have Raphael anyway. She has sex with Zev and unfortunately she still pines for Raphael. Tamiel goes missing and Jack goes to Octavia for help. They go to the Witch, demon named Niu, who tells them where Tamiel is. They won’t be able to get to him for some time. She also reveals that Octavia is pregnant.
Zev and Octavia start “dating” officially, which is to say demons don’t date but he’ll make an exception. Jack and Octavia try to figure out more on Tamiel and how to save him. They find out that Octavia’s pregnancy is potentially catastrophic, and she’ll be murdered by all the angels for even being pregnant so she and Jack fake a miscarriage (she plants to keep her promise to Zev to wait a month and decide). Jack helps her lie to Raphael and Zev. Zev does not take it too well, but he doesn’t destroy anything so it’s not too bad. Raphael and Octavia go to the Healers to convince the Angels to help Tamiel. Octavia starts working at Blood and Bone for Zev. She loves Raphael. Raphael finally convinces everyone, and Octavia has sorta restarted her life. She and Raphael share a very intimate moment after she heals him (where he kisses her wrist and that’s it). Raphael runs away because he knows what he is feeling and Octavia wishes that the rules were different.
They go to save Tamiel and have to drink madness potions. It causes Octavia to actually miscarriage. They do save Tamiel but Jack is a bit mentally scared by the potion. Zev takes over Altarf, the place where Tamiel was held. Raphael admits he loves Octavia. She breaks up with Zev and doesn’t see either of them for two months. She then makes up with Raphael and knows she’s desperately in love with him, and he loves her the same way. She goes to a party and is attacked, but Zev saves her. She convinces Raphael that she can’t hide. So our girl is kidnapped again, this time by Cain. She’s saved by Zev and Raphael. She tells the truth about the real miscarriage to Zev, and then sorta becomes a not-couple-couple with Raphael. They go to visit her grandparents. They make out after.
Gabriel threatens her. She goes to try to get into Parid, home of Angels, and ends up in Kolos, home of demons. She tells them that she is their queen, once she finds out Zev is their king. She does get back out with Caleb. Raphael and Zev, in that time, found out from Niu, that she was made into the Gatekeeper. When she gets back she meets with Zev and demands he give her a way to be with Raphael, if she gave him Kolos. She also realized he’d planned the whole thing for the last 4000 years. She decides to take Zev back, without getting anything, because she wants him gone. The Angels all come, and Hamon stabs Octavia trying to kill her. Zev takes her to Kolos, heals her, but now she has demon energy in her. He reveals he is half demon half angel and his father is Cain. Basically, Zev is keeping bother her and Raphael alive (by extension).
Epilogue, Octavia is now the Demon of Games, and married to Raphael.
What I Liked:
The First “Reveal”: How many times has it been where its a big, mystery as to what is happening and who this new person is. Not even eleven pages in we get the information on who this person is. What he is. And why he is being hunted. Honestly I didn’t think it was going to be that refreshing.
Octavia; Well, I did like her. I also liked how she was completely willing to accept the crazy world in front of her.
Raphael; He was good, a little flat in that goodness, but considering that he’s a Commander that decided to give up everything for this girl, I’m more interested in his thought process than anything else.
Zev, The Demon of Games; Easily the most interesting person ever. Which, isn’t too hard to do when you’re a demon and you make games. I always like the tricky characters, so he hit the mark right then and there. I did appreciate his desire to control his emotions, and give respect. That’s cool.
Caleb; Ah I love him. What a good brother. I hope he’s happy.
Tamiel; Honestly I do wish we got more of him. He was gone basically half the book on some mission or captured. He seemed really interesting at first too, and from what we got of him I think he is.
Jack Cohen; He’s a sweet character. Protect him at all costs! Please.
Irin and Akero; I’m just gonna group all them together here: Hamon, Isra, Peliel, Sorush, Gabriel, Qaspiel, Ramiel, Sariel. They were all interesting side characters, and I imagine they’d be further developed in later books and honestly I hope for that, cuz this is an interesting cast.
Healers; Chloe, Isabelle, Seth. Like their Akero, this cast was interesting too. Seth got the most development, I feel. And I do hope he gets more as do the others in later books.
Daevas; Æshma, Cain. I know there were others as well, but they didn’t stand out as much, possibly because these two were the two big bads for the series. I want to know more about Cain, by a lot.
Niu; This character is so mysterious. I love it. I also just love Oracle characters and the “wise” ones anyway. I think her execution as a character was great.
Romance; You know, I was wondering if I was going to hate this aspect the whole time I was reading. And I probably would have if Octavia fully fell for Zev as well as Raphael. Love triangles are a tricky thing for me, personally, to enjoy. However, I really liked the execution of this one. I wish I got a bit more on why Octavia liked Raphael, but I’ll accept it. The time line, the pining, the actual stakes to it, all of it I liked, after all.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
The World Building Dump; Information on daevas and akero was kinda just tossed in. All too quickly with little weight to it, I felt. I think this has to do with the writing style. Where our author gives quick information and then moves on, which works for the rest of the book except for this part and the fighting. Interestingly enough, however, after the first little dump of info in the beginning (which granted, I’ve mostly let slide because honestly how many times have I read a book where a character asks for explanation and no one gives it? At least she gets her answers in this one!) most of the world building does feel much more organic. It was just something about those first few paragraphs of it, when they are first explained, that rubbed me the wrong way. I am extremely interested in the world itself, and the set up of it all just the execution at first had me feeling odd.
Pacing and Writing in the Fighting; Individually, I like both of these aspects. I liked getting as much as we did and as fast as we did. I liked how we had down time between events where Octavia would center herself. I liked how long a time line we got (6+ months). I also liked the writing style. It was quick, easy to read. Her dialogue helped define the characters, as did the actions, and vocabulary. The issue is, with a quick writing style, and a quick pace, I felt like things were rushed specifically in the fight scenes. We had all these interesting fight sequences that ended in about a page and a half, where, I feel, it should have been a lot longer. And so, when we get the at home or relaxation moments, they seem to drag on a bit more even though, as a unit, their pacing was great. Because the fights just, as climatic moments, didn’t really land for me. It was just another event, that happened all too often in a “oh, again?” sort of way. Each fight was just another fight with little stakes, it felt. And their weight didn’t really matter at all, despite the fact I know it was intended to. Once the fight was over, it was over and we were moving on to the next thing and the next battle or issue. To me, it felt a bit disjointed. I got a bit of whiplash reading some fight scenes, reading it and it being over so quickly and I wasn’t completely sure what had happened to make it end. I felt that if there was more description to the fights, and to the world around them in specific moments, it could help with that flow.
Characters; While I really did like the characters. I felt that I really didn’t know most of them. They were all very static, to me, as well as very flat. The rough part is, I don’t think this is justice to the characters, because their dialogue and actions show much more character. I think that some of this comes from the more succinct writing style as well. That I did understand the characters enough to like them, but I didn’t know enough about them to care.
‘I’ve always believed in more. I think I just got lost somewhere along the way with what form that belief comes in.’ – pg 40
‘Knowing there’s more but not knowing what. It makes life seem like a story that’s constantly being written. And if things never really stop, if there’s always something more, that’s not scary.’ – pg 41