Rating: 2.5 stars
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Xenoarcheology is a field of study entered into by a brave few who believe that there is more to life than what we see. Alec believes in more than just humans; he believes in angels and demons, in mythological monsters and marvels. It seems that Alec’s belief and hard work are going to pay off as he and his best friend, Clementine, discover a statue that they both believe to be that of Azazel, a creature either demon or pagan god — or both — from the Book of Enoch. If the statue is what they think it is, if the site of their dig is indeed Dudael, then they have discovered proof of angels.
There are more people than Alec and Clemy interested in their discovery, some who wish the forbidden site and its secrets to remain hidden, and others who are bent on releasing the ancient evil and bringing about the end of the world. Standing between the forces of hell and all of humanity are Praesidium — a global organization of unimaginable wealth and power — and Rafe, the giant, gorgeous man who stepped from Alec’s vision and into his heart.
I had so many problems with this book. I believe this to be the author’s first book, and it shows in the writing. It’s repetitive, simplistic, and prone to telling and explaining rather than showing, or trusting the reader to understand what’s going on without their hand being held. Such as the constant reminder — in almost every paragraph — who is talking, who is being talked about, or who is taking an action.
The pace is irregular, with slower sections being given a great deal of attention — such as a weird pause to marvel that the Praesidium’s star chef is female — and action scenes are over in a single page, with Alec showing remarkable skill in doing whatever it is that needs to be done. Alec knows everything, understands everything, and yet has no real personality to grab ahold of. For example, Alec seems to tell at first glance just how tall everyone is to the inch; knows where everyone is from, having an astonishing ear for accents; speaks a variety of languages; can instantly determine which mythology a particular monster is from; is familiar with guns and knives, and isn’t rattled by or afraid of anything. Perhaps in an effort to remind us that Alec is Scottish, he will, on occasion, use ‘ye’ instead of ‘you,’ but it’s so random that it stands out, and not in a good way.
Rafe is tall and gorgeous, with lovely blonde hair. He’s reserved, an efficient fighter, and no one really knows anything about him. The only person remotely close to him is one of the directors of Praesidium. He’s one of their trusted fighters, and that’s pretty much it. There’s an obvious bit of foreshadowing, but by the end of the book, all I can tell you about Rafe is that he exists to be the love interest to Alec.
With so may different mythologies being brought together — from Polynesian to Greek, with hints at Norse — the emphasis on the purely Christian nature of the villains and the good guys is kind of confusing. If this is biblical, why are other cultures’ religions brought in? Doesn’t that somewhat invalidate things? No one questions anything, and no one seems to really care about much of anything. When Rafe is showing that he has a sense of humor, Alec laughs as though what he said was funny, whether it was or wasn’t. When there’s a beat in the story for conflict between the two main characters, they argue by rote, with no real feeling of emotion behind it, and make up just as easily.
The plot is overly familiar and it can’t help but feel derivative, with no real shining moment to make it stand out. I was interested to see a new take on angels and demons and, not being familiar with the biblical prophecies in the Book of Enoch, I was hoping to see something new and unique. Unfortunately, this book — on all levels — just didn’t manage to catch my interest and I feel no investment in the book, the world, or the characters. I hate to say it but this is a solid pass, from me.