As Most High’s second created angel, whose claim to fame is perfection, Allerio is less than pleased when High leaves him out of his newest plans. Driven by his own curiosity, sense of superiority, and need to break free of the restrictions High has placed upon his angels without explanation, Allerio pierces the boundary of his world and finds knowledge through Death—a knowledge that offers him the freedom and ascension to godhood he craves, but at the cost of becoming a demon.
Banished and given the new moniker, Lucifer, he and Death are now pledged as immortal enemies of High and gods of the Underworld, with Death as the true god and mastermind and Lucifer his figurehead and servant. However, in the course of building their armies by creating various supernatural beings, wreaking havoc on Earth and throughout the universe, and reveling in undermining High’s will, Lucifer and Death each grapple with the “weakness” of emotions. For Lucifer, his unwavering, desperate desire to bear a child and have a family and for Death, the incomprehensible love he has for Lucifer, even though Death is a being born of hatred and rage.
I read Death’s Angel for the New-to-Me Author Week for our Reading Challenge Month because I like paranormal stories, and I am drawn to works that seem to incorporate apocryphal/Christian mythology. From the blurb, I was prepared for the romantic/erotic aspects to take precedence over the paranormal ones, however, the way the story came together as a whole just didn’t work for me. While I give Mandrake props for creative use of the mythology and paranormal elements, by about halfway into the story, it mostly felt like window dressing. It’s like when you go see a play with a great set design or a movie with well-done costuming and lighting, but the narrative—the meat and heart of what you came for—just doesn’t pull you in. While I feel like I know what the book was trying to do—tell a compelling story about how love and connection is possible even in the darkest of souls and that the love between parent and child is unbreakable no matter what choices they make—it just didn’t hit the mark for me.
One of the main reasons is that, unfortunately, the book suffers from one of my major pet peeves—multiple grammatical/editorial errors. It immediately pulls me out of a story when this happens several times on a page. My brain stops being engaged in the story because I’m trying to figure out what is actually being conveyed or said, especially when the narrative is trying to make spiritual points. This is compounded by the dialogue feeling a bit stiff and often dramatic as well. If the story is working for me in other ways, it doesn’t bother me so much, but as Death’s Angel progressed, Lucifer’s story arc becomes focused on his childlessness in an artificial and unsatisfactory manner for me. While it should have added depth to the character and made him more sympathetic, the writing style, and this all-consuming yearning that seems to materialize out of nowhere, such that that one minute Lucifer is evil-monologuing with the best of them about his ultimate quest to become more revered than High to suddenly sobbing and building his own army as surrogate children for his barren womb “because otherwise there [is] nothing else,” left me feeling like an MC angst bomb had been dropped on me in order to compel me to connect with the character instead of the narrative organically bringing me there.
As Death put it:
“Lucifer was so desperate for a family, he was willing to create one.
What a sap!”
And frankly, I couldn’t disagree with him because Luci’s empty womb and then empty nest becomes the story, and Death and Lucifer’s relationship with paranormal/Christian set-pieces thrown in just weren’t enough to make it interesting to me. Moreover, once Luci and Death get together in their abrupt and very Death appropriate way, the narrative basically shoots into emotional overdrive, including sadomasochistic sex (without the pesky human elements), mpreg, nursery shopping, grief, and immortal stalemate/life lessons.
Until I read Death’s Angel, I didn’t realize quite how many “Immortals” stories there are in this series. So, some of the lines that I feel contradict themselves or introduce interesting lore or ideas that are never built on, etc. might be more established elsewhere, and may not bother other readers. Furthermore, maybe the tone/emphasis of this book is more in keeping with Lucifer and Death’s established relationship elsewhere. Thus, for fans of Michael Mandrake and/or the Immortals series, Death’s Angel may be just what they are looking for.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a bundle of fabulous books donated by Carina Press! Commenters will also be entered to win one of our three amazing Grand Prize book bundles. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.