Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.
They go after Miquel.
Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.
A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.
In Midnight’s Silence is the first entry in a new series of novella’s by T. Frohock. After having read and enjoyed her previous novella The Broken Road last year, I couldn’t wait to read the first on the Los Nefilim sequence, because how could I not want to read about fallen angels, daimons and Civil War-era Spain? It turns out, I can’t resist at all, since I tore through the book in an afternoon, only coming up for air once I finished it.
The main story is told over the course of only a couple of days at most, with some flashbacks to develop characters and history, and focusses tightly on Frohock’s main characters Diago and Miquel, which is a joy, as they are fabulous. They start off as an established couple and the conflict in their relationship, which is loving and stable, is provided through the appearance of Diago’s son. A child he didn’t know existed from an affair Miquel never knew he had. In a way these are very grown-up relationship problems, ones that usually crop up after other stories have written their ‘the end’. I really liked the fact the maturity of the relationship and the partners and I appreciated the fact that the fact that they love each other was never in doubt.
Diago is a complicated character, someone who is always in-between; he’s neither angel or daimon, he’s neither immortal or mortal, and neither Nefilim or innocent. He belongs nowhere and everywhere, but finds his home and his anchor in Miquel. Since the book is mostly written from Diago’s point of view we don’t get to see how Miquel views this bond, whether Diago is as much his anchor and he is Diago’s. Hopefully, we’ll be able to explore this further in the next books. One of the things Diago and Miquel had clearly agreed about is that they didn’t want children and Rafael’s appearance puts paid to all of that. I loved the way that Diago snaps into parent-mode even if he hadn’t wanted a child before, yet acknowledges that Miquel isn’t bound to make the same choice. His reaction to Rafael is influenced by his own abandonment by his father and he is determined not to let history repeat itself, even if it means giving up what is most precious to him.
Frohock doesn’t shy away from dealing with tough subjects and questions. For example, her examination of Rafael’s conception and whether Candela raped Diago or not, with her angelic powers essentially serving as a roofie. The reactions this elicits from Miquel and Diago were interesting. Miquel grasps at this to staunch his feelings of being betrayed, while at the same time being furious that someone did this to Diago. Diago, on the other hand, has a hard time coming to grips with the truth of the situation, preferring to believe he betrayed the love of his life to knowing he was violated. Thanks to the circumstances the men don’t get to discuss what happened in depth, so it’ll be interesting to see whether this will come up again in the next book.
Another tough question Frock puts to her protagonist and the reader is that of sacrificing the one for the greater good. In this case. Diago is told that sacrificing his son to Moloch will save millions of lives. The angels obviously believe that sacrificing one child to save many is the moral choice, but Diago questions this. Given our hindsight – we know that the angels are working to prevent WWII and the Holocaust – this dilemma is harrowing in the eyes of the reader. How many time travel stories aren’t based on the premise of going back and killing Hitler, thereby stopping the war? Yet in those cases, as in this case, the question is, would it work? Given the fact that the angels have some form of precognition it makes the choice even harder, as obviously they know it will. But has this knowledge blinded them to alternative scenarios? Diago’s answer to the question whether the good of the many justifies the sacrifice of the one is instant and absolute—he’ll find another way.
The organisation known as Los Nefilim is a fantastic concept. I have a weak spot for these kinds of secret, supernatural societies and Frohock chose her angle well. The Los Nefilim leader Guillermo is an interesting character, whose brief appearance was too little of a good thing. I sincerely hope to see more of him. His daughter Ysabel was lovely and added a bit of a lighter note to the end of the book, which I enjoyed. The way she took Rafael under her wing felt very natural and true to how children operate amongst themselves and her somewhat impudent attitude to the adults around her was quite amusing. Frohock didn’t just include wonderful characters on the side of the angels, there were several on the side that opposes Los Nefilim and Diago and Miquel as well. The scenes with Moloch and his servants were tense and fascinating – Moloch is everything you’d expect him to be and more – and the sacrifice of one of Moloch’s servants was actually quite touching.
Frohock’s world-building in the book is wonderful. The magic in the story was music-based, reminiscent of the magic depicted in The Broken Road. I liked the idea that the magic could be carried through song, through instrumental music and in some cases through dance. The 1930s Barcelona setting was wonderful as well and served as a great showcase for Frohock’s beautiful writing, which is quite descriptive and very atmospheric. The scenes where Diago moves across Barcelona from his house to the district where Miquel worked are gorgeous.
In Midnight’s Silence is a great story, which I absolutely loved. Frohock’s writing is lush and her story instantly captivating. I can’t wait to read the next entry in the series and I can’t recommend In Midnight’s Silence highly enough.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.