Rating: 3.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Gabriel has lived in the orphanage for as long as he can remember, with Doctor Roger’s sessions to help him past his childhood ‘incident’ and the pills to keep him from having another psychotic break. At least, that’s what he’s been told, that the nightmares of being beaten, raped, drowned, stabbed, burned, and tortured by Father John, Doctor Roger, the nuns, and Officer Martinez aren’t real. That none of that happened, because how could it? And Gabriel believes them; it’s either believe he had a moment of insanity and dreamed up a nightmarish ritual where the people who raised him wanted to sacrifice him … or believe that the people who raised him actually did those things to him.

Until the night Abbadon comes to Gabriel with promises of vengeance.

I am God’s Dagger is part of the Virtuous Sinners multi-author collection, and is meant to be read as a standalone. Having not read the other books, I had no problems jumping right into this one, and the only connection I can see to the other books is a brief cameo at the end where Abbadon connects with a fellow ne’er do well. The story references Gabriel’s traumatic past, where he was tortured by a cult, but it all happened off screen with no actual depictions or moments where it’s shown on page. However, if you find yourself uncomfortable with such topics, then you may want to avoid this book.

Gabriel is a bit of a cypher. Bad things happened to him and, in this book, he’s watching bad things happen to other people, as the men and women who hurt him are being killed left, right, and center by a man claiming to be the angel, Abbadon, sent by God to avenge him. Gabriel seems to have no problem with any of this, accepting it all at face value, as he accepts everything else. In fact, Gabriel seems to have no reaction to anything happening beyond a token. When confronting Officer Martinez, he has a moment where it’s said he’s scared, but he never acts scared, and he gets over it quickly enough. When he’s angry at Abbadon, it’s much the same; a token grr, and then a shrug, and back to killing more people.

Abbadon claims to be an angel, having dug himself out of the ground, and is now driven by God’s will to kill everyone who hurt the poor, precious boy he wants to worship and make love to, to show him rape isn’t the only way to have sex. While he puts on a bit of a guilt trip — I love you, I wish you’d let me show you how much I love you by letting me fuck you — it only happens once, and he never pushes again. There is a nice moment of a red herring about Abbadon, and then the big reveal … and while the actual meat of the reveal didn’t work for me, the reveal itself worked, technically speaking.

However, I didn’t care for this book. Gabriel starts the book and finishes it with no character growth, having done nothing but follow Abbadon around. He’s such a non-character of a character; Abbadon has a little more going on, but once the reveal is, well, revealed, he loses a lot of his charisma and just sort of sulks to the end of the book. All in all, this was a very one-note story with no tension, no nuance, and no subtlety. People were labeled as evil, then killed. And then the book ended. The writing style is fine, the pacing is strong, and the bones of the mystery are there, but lacking characters, lacking any consequences or depth, there just isn’t much to say about this book.

In the end, unless you’re a fan of the collection and want to finish it out, I can’t say that I recommend this one. It’s not terrible and it’s not bad, it just doesn’t feel like much of anything.

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