As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice – barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over – once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high? And what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it?
The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell breaks loose…
Rebellion is the second book in the Blood and Feathers series. I reviewed Lou Morgan’s debut novel last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was really looking forward to reading this second instalment in the series. The novel picks up six months after the ending of the first one and we find Alice in a much changed situation from her previous life. Struggling to learn to control her new-found powers, living in Mallory’s old home in the sacristy and she’s quickly running out of money. Meanwhile, the Fallen have escaped Hell and are moving to take over the Earth. Humanity is largely powerless against them and it’s all the angels, led by Michael, can do to keep the balance from tipping over too far. Until the balance doesn’t just tip over, it does a double somersault and lands in a belly flop with its tongue between its teeth. And yeah, that story is as cool as I had hoped it would be.
This time we stay on Earth and we discover where Alice actually lives: London. In this book Earth is not just a stage Alice moves over to get from wherever to Hell, but it’s the backdrop against which the narrative actually plays out and in fact the places the story visits even play an important part. The story starts in London and Morgan cleverly incorporated the London riots of 2011 into her plot; the riots were perhaps not kicked off by the Fallen, but they most definitely fanned the flames and transformed the streets into a hellish pandemonium where the mindless mob rules and anything can and will be used as a weapon. In contrast, most of the second half of the book is set on the idyllic, and iconic, Mont Saint-Michel – yes, named for that Michael – which the angels have made their headquarters on Earth. And while there was plenty of fighting here as well, it didn’t seem quite as visceral and chaotic as the riot scenes. Grim, yes, unrelenting, most definitely, but far better organised and also less messy. It’s as if the peace that can be found on the mountain in the sea pervades everything and anything there, making even conflict seem cleaner.
Despite the big battle scenes, it’s the quieter, smaller moments where a single decision is made, that have furthest reaching impact and pack the greatest punch. The novel looks at choices: how we’re free to make our own, the difficulty of having to make a choice and then having to stick to it. Your choice is your own and the consequences are yours to bear, even if they are unexpected and affect people other than yourself in ways you didn’t mean to. Something which is reinforced in Alice’s case, since Michael makes the others abide by her choices as well. But it’s not just Alice who makes choices, it is all of them. It is Florence choosing Xaphan, Adriel choosing his successor; it is Gabriel choosing to act as he does and Toby as well. They all make choices, choices influenced by those of others, choices made ages and eons ago, but whose ripples only know come back to haunt those who made them.
I had a great time getting to know the various angels better and even meeting new ones. I loved Adriel and his successor and I found Zadkiel, Castor, and Pollux a fascinating trio, whose complete story I hope one day to find out. Morgan writes quick, snappy dialogue, with a wry sense of humour and enough bite to thoroughly engage me. Alice continues to grow, to master her dual nature and to discover how to just be Alice, instead of having to be either human or angel. I really enjoyed her development and the roles Mallory and Vin play in it. Surprisingly, both Mallory and Vin change and grow as well – surprising, because hey, eons-old characters should have the wisdom of Methuselah, right? You’d think they’d have learned it all by now. But no, they still have plenty to learn – though in this book it’s more Vin than Mallory who has to do most of the growing. And it’s Alice who needs to help them and all the others grow by shaking them up.
Lou Morgan has firmly placed herself on my auto-buy-list of authors with her second book. Blood and Feathers: Rebellion is a great sequel to Blood and Feathers and it has raised the stakes for Alice, the angels, and humanity considerably. I’m looking forward to the next – and presumably concluding – volume in the series and seeing where Morgan will take us next. We have seen Hell and Earth, will the next stop be Heaven? Whether it is or not, I know I’ll be along for the ride. Won’t you catch up and join me?
This book was provided for review by the publisher.