Dashiell Lam is a fallen half-angel who has made a home for himself in New York. Four years ago, Dashiell had his wings and immortality stripped away because of his involvement with a rebel demigod called Illan Kane, whose challenge against the Malachim caused the deaths of thousands of humans and angels alike.
Sitting in a bar one night, Dashiell notices a beautiful angel walk in, only Dashiell’s presumption that Cael Moriah is there to kill him proves to be wrong. Cael is a Malachim augurer, or tracker, who has been sent to earth to ask for Dashiell’s help in finding Illan Kane, who was assumed to be dead until an amulet containing his trace was found. Despite the fact that Dashiell is promised the return of his wings in exchange for his help, he is reluctant to join Cael, but after a visit to a Seer, which ends in violence, near kisses, and the news that Cael needs to go to the underworld, Dashiell becomes involved.
While on their dangerous journey to find and stop Illan Kane, the relationship between Dashiell and Cael becomes more intense. As much as they try to fight their feelings, help from an incubus called Shay, near death experiences, and questionable trust only heightens their emotions, though any relationship is forbidden.
I have a love for anything to do with angels so I was really excited to read Angel’s Fall. I really liked that despite the fact stories about angels generally have religious connotations, Liv Rider chooses not to include any here. In my opinion, this is less likely to alienate some readers. For me, there is also a significance in the fact that no one in Rider’s novel is perfect, even the two angel factions we encounter, the Malachim and Elohim. The Malachim are particularly shady, which is perhaps unusual for a group of heavenly beings, though I very much like Rider’s insinuation here that there is light and shade within everyone, no matter how sanctimonious someone may appear.
Dashiell is jaded by events that have occurred, making him wary and distrustful. However, behind the hard exterior he presents, Rider shows that Dashiell is touched by more than just Cael’s physical beauty and is prepared to risk his life on more than one occasion to save Cael’s. Unlike Dashiell, Cael is open and trusting, particularly of the Malachim edicts he has been raised with. It is Cael’s character that has the greatest arc as he not only learns more about the human world Dashiell is part of, but also the darkness that exists, surprisingly not only within Illan Kane, but also his own species. His speech and actions near the end of the story fully reveal his enlightening.
Importantly, whilst learning about each other, Dashiell and Cael also learn to love. The relationship between them is an enjoying development and an aspect of the story that we can invest in. The Malachim are not discouraged from physical liaisons, but they are forbidden to love so this is a new experience for both characters. However, I did not feel that Angel’s Fall fell into the insta-love trope, even though the mutual physical attraction between Dashiell and Cael is evident almost immediately. Rider builds their relationship alongside events of the story and perhaps the crescendo for them both is the first time they make love. Rider’s writing captures the beauty and intensity of this special moment excellently and this was one sex scene I did not want to skip. I felt that Rider is able to convey more than just physical need in the language she uses, though the word “want” is used repeatedly and both men reach their end goal. The connection they make during this act is tenable and so intense that Cael loses his ability to control the illusion that hides his wings:
Dashiell saw the shimmer of their outline against the sheets — white like the first dusting of snow; gold like sunlight on a ripple of water. He closed his eyes, the sight too much to bear when he was already so raw and cracked open.
The power of Rider’s language is also evident on other parts of Angel’s Fall, notably in her descriptions. One of my favorite examples of this is when Dashiell and Cael visit the Seer. Rider describes the colors, materials, and smells, and most vivid is Cael’s first look at Miss Delphina:
She was tall and wrapped in a red and purple dressing gown. The hand resting on the frame of the door was dark brown and aged, the hand of someone old and yet timeless. As promised, her face was obscured by a black lace veil. . . .
Under the black lace, features shifted and reformed themselves. Where her mouth should have been was a distorted blur. It was like looking into a rippling pool.
As much as Rider’s writing and characters drew me into Angel’s Fall, for me, there were elements missing. For example, Illan Kane appears to be a key figure, but I feel his importance was built up to an anticlimax. Also, I did not feel that Rider gave Kane an adequate motive for the deaths caused and this may have helped to understand the angel politics a little better.
Angel’s Fall is an intense novel with a substantial m/m romance plot and a paranormal intrigue side dish. Although I haven’t mentioned Shay in any details, he is brilliant and I hope he appears in the possible sequel the ending of Angel’s Fall leaves us hoping for. Not a perfect novel, but still a hearty recommendation!