This review does not contain spoilers.
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Travelling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
No matter how many times I read Angelfall, I still find it thrilling. Post-apocalyptic books are not terribly uncommon these days, but I still get excited when I find an author who is honest about the circumstances in which their characters have to survive. Sometimes you can’t shower for a week or don’t want to because the water is ice-cold. Sometimes you have to eat cat food to survive.
It’s even more exciting when the protagonist can’t just fight off any danger. Penryn may be trained in various martial arts (for a good reason, as you’ll find out) but her small size can be a huge disadvantage for her. When brute strength fails, she has to use cunning to keep herself safe.
Although there is a budding romantic interest throughout the book, the plot doesn’t revolve solely around it. Penryn and Raffe, her angelic travelling companion, both have their own agendas and nothing can sway either of them from their goals.
There isn’t a huge amount of exposition about how the End of Days (the angelic apocalypse) came about. It’s tantalisingly drip-fed to readers, giving them enough information to understand and keep up with Penryn on her journey. She doesn’t have time to reminisce about these things, so we don’t have time to read them. All we know for sure is that angels are not the fuzzy gentle guardians of modern culture: they are the more Biblical ‘harbingers of doom, willing and able to destroy entire cities.’
The reason this book is so memorable is the element of horror. It builds subtly, raising questions about perception, and culminates in a brutal and emotional cliffhanger ending. The connection between Penryn and Raffe is never stronger than at this point, and this is what had me coming back for more the first time and every reread since.
I always forget that Angelfall began as a self-published debut novel. The writing is crisp, the plot flows smoothly, the dialogue is believable, and the characters are well-developed and possess strong motivations. This is an incredible start to Penryn and the End of Days and I’m looking forward to following Susan Ee’s career in the future.