Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
[I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. What I’ve written below is much more than that. Enjoy.]
First, I want to say something about Angels. Popular culture is very misleading when it comes to them. We’ve seen them in a lot of different roles; warriors, devils, sexual objects. However, we rarely see their biblical origins in the shiny, very human looking winged men (and sometimes women) in books, tv and movies.
Once upon a time, Angels were more than sexy, supernatural creatures. They were/are servants of god. Without free will or any desire save to carry out the will of their lord. It was their duty, but more importantly it was their joy. They were the first submissives.
I do not see coincidence in the similarities between title of this book, the character it refers to and the holiest of severance of the Christian god. It is a very purposeful, eloquent and truthful comparison. Though I must say that Michael Dimir is not the only angel in this book. In truth there is a holy host masquerading as sinners in the world that Tiffany Riesz has created, with love and care.
Whenever I step into the world Nora Sutherlin and her band of sinners one of my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes comes to mind.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
While this is a very posh gutter of the BDSM world, every single one of these supposedly depraved people have their eyes on the stars. Nora included.
Good god, Nora fucking Sutherlin. I love her, god help me I do, but I don’t know what to do with her. It’s nice to know i’m not the only one.
While a great deal happens with many different characters the undercurrent of the story is Nora’s own tumultuous mind and heart. Her inner struggle is palpable, even when it’s not at the forefront of a given scene. The unflappable Nora Sutherlin, biggest badass Dominatrix in NYC is out of sorts and it takes her most of the book to come to terms with the reason why.
I love how organic this process is for her and us. It never feel forced or rush, because really realisations rarely hit like a bolt of lightning. Though sometimes it does take a hard slap to face to get them to sink in. ;)
In any other story Nora’s internal struggle would eat up a lion share of the story, with pages of navel gazing and self examination, but luckily Ms. Riesz doesn’t take the easy route. Nora lives her life, as anyone would and in that life are a great many people with their own lives and struggles. Which brings us to Michael.
I should warn you that I have difficulty talking or even thinking about Michael without getting emotional. Rarely have I seen such an authentic view into what it is like to feel “other” as a teenager. I’m not talking the stock teenage angst you see in popular media. Michael isn’t a spoiled, self indulgent brat who acts out to be “different.”
He is a gentle, very sensitive, selfless young man who wholeheartedly believes he is fundamental “wrong.” His conviction and resignation to being a freak is painful to read at times. Especially for someone who has felt that same way at one time in their lives. Which makes this books is both wonderful and painful to read.
Though it is absolutely worth it. Every little cut is worth it for the many wondrous pleasures and overwhelming love that awaits. Even at the darkest moments we get rays of star light to guide us through to an tremendous knee-weakening demonstration of love.
That’s the thread that keeps coming back to me through the entire book. Love. It permeates this story, in every crack and crevice. In laugh out loud moments between Griffin and Nora, silent moments between her and Michael, or heart wrenching moments of realization in Søren’s rectory. Love is everywhere.
Oh Søren. Anyone who knows me or has read my review of The Siren, knows of my deep love for a certain Priest. Well, I can tell you. I thought I love him before. That was nothing compared to how I feel about him, after reading this book. I will quote a text message I sent a friend after reading one of the most soul-crushingly lovely moments in the book.
“A man like this has to be fictional. For him to be real would crack the planet in half.”
I stand by my words. Riesz has truly created one of the most complex, evocative and breathtakingly beautiful human beings ever to grace the pages of a book. I fear for anyone who would ever be foolish enough to attempt a feat such as this again. She set the bar so high someone would have to stand on the shoulders of gods to even hope to clear it.
I talk about god a lot in this review. Which is pretty funny since I’m an atheist. Yet, even I was seduced by the spiritual depth of this story. I’m not talking about preaching. A story this clever never has to force itself on you.
It seduces you, even as it speaks to the strength of faith and the power of acceptance. I, like a certain character in this book, lack faith in god, but I have a great deal of faith in the existence of good people, and the infallibility of a good heart. Even when it’s dwells within the chest of an unrepentant sinner or a reverent sadist.
That’s the magic of The Angel. As you’re laughing, crying and fanning yourself over the incredibly erotic sex scenes, you’re also falling in love. Each one of these people has a story to tell and you become extremely invested. You feel for them. Cry for them and at times you might even scream at them.
It is a roller coaster of joy, grief and exaltation. It will grab you by the collar and drag you along like a supersonic freight train of emotions. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the log of my status updates while I read.
As I said before it is worth it. Every tear, every gasp of shock and even that soul crushing moment that you knew was coming, but you didn’t want to believe it would really happen. It is worth it all, but the best kind of love always is.