The story begins with Remiel, one of the Seven Archangels that stand before God, dancing in a studio. She's checking out one of the latest musical trends to see if it is, in fact, music. Saraquael, another of the Seven, comes to find out what she is doing. Instead, Remiel starts a game of Tag that eventually encompasses several angels and the entire Universe. She even coaxes Gabriel out of his library and into the game.
Unfortunately, that leads Gabriel into a trap set by Satan and his minions: Mephistopheles, Beezelbub, Asmodeus, and Belior. And one more fallen angel: Camael, Remiel's twin brother. Memphistopheles, a Cherubim like Gabriel, has discovered how to kill an angel and Gabriel is their first victim. By destroying Gabriel, they hope to cripple Raphael, a Seraphim who is joined to Gabriel, and to exploit what they see as a weakness in God's design, thereby proving Satan as God's equal.
Camael is captured by Michael and Remiel assumes her brother's aspects in hopes of thwarting Satan's plans. This, however, causes problems for Remiel, who must continually deny who she is in order to remain undetected as Camael.
And, in fact, Hell's plans don't succeed, at least not completely. Gabriel is not killed but he is mortally wounded. And God, because of His gift of Free Will, will not interfere. The angels must discover how to repair Gabriel's soul and repair Remiel's psyche.
Initially, I was caught off-guard by the modern aspects of Heaven. Mary in blue jeans and a pony tail? Baking cookies? Angels in hiking boots and turtlenecks? Rock-climbing? Playing tag? I've always thought of angels as near-perfect beings, so it was odd to read about personality quirks and clashes.
But, as the author, Jane Lebak, explains, each angel is a "facet" of God. So it makes sense that each angel would be unique and individual. And if they didn't have personalities, the story would be very dull indeed! And that brings out some interesting discussions about Free Will and choice, repentance and redemption, how hate perverts God's order and design, and finding the inner strength to do what God's will. Not bad for a book under 300 pages!
Once I got into the milieu, I was truly absorbed into the story. (Okay, when Jesus says to Mary "Thanks, Mom," for a cookie, I laughed.) Towards the end, I was even feeling sorry for Mephistopheles. And, since there are seven archangels, I'm hoping there are six more books.
One critique: I wished Ms. Lebak had included an organizational chart at the beginning of the book. Several of the angels have similar names and I would forget which choir they belonged to. And a brief description of each choirs quirks would also have been helpful, especially at the beginning. (Cherubim are the "absent-minded professors", Seraphim are healers (and quick-tempered), Thrones stand in front of God, singing His praises--that sort of thing.)
On the March Hare scale: 4 out 5 Golden Bookmarks
crossposted at The Mad Tea Party