Rating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Raphael Azelys is the Third Prince of Heaven, which means he’s the third son and heir to the King–whom Raphael detests. When Raphel was 12, he witnessed his father commit a heinous crime and he’s been disillusioned ever since. Heaven is the land of Angels and Demons — those who survived after the Great War to repopulate the land, anyway. Angels have blue eyes and Demons have red, though there are some illegal substances that will temporarily mask red eye color. The Angels “won” the war, but all technology and medical advances were lost in the battles and the Demons were relegated to subservience. Demons who submit to brainwashing via the Temple of Virtue can become honorary Angels, with menial jobs in Heaven that provide for their basic needs. Other “free” Demons can exist in the ghettos, but this life is dangerous and short, even for Demons who have enhanced healing abilities compared with Angels.

The Azelys clan has ruled Heaven for dozens of generations, and Raphael believes it’s long enough. He’s tired of the corruption he’s witnessed during his 25 years of life, and wished his mother’s revolutionary plans to help the Demons would have been able to become reality. Instead, one of the main nobles is trying to pass legislation that would allow for medical experimentation on Demons, with or without their consent. Despite being an Angel of the highest born, Raphael is determined to stop this, stop all the Demon abuse, and remove his family from the ruling of Heaven–and he’s now found his accomplice: a Demon with abilities he’s never witnessed before, with rapid healing and even flight, of a sort.

Dante is a Demon about the same age as Raphael, but he learned how to unlock special abilities from a mentor in his youth by using meditation. He has tried to pass on this knowledge to the young Demons he’s fostered over the years, but hasn’t had much success. He’s also failing at mentoring these younglings, mostly because the gangs and Angel police are busy picking off the kids for their own nefarious purposes. When Dante is betrayed by his own kind, he’s got nothing left and is nursed back to health by Raphael. The Prince may be crazy, but Dante’s too weak in spirit to turn down the unbelievable chance to change their world for the better, as Raphael promises to do. It will take time, but Dante will be important in this mission, and this purpose keeps him going, even after he falls hard for his enigmatic and convincing prince.

The Enemy of Heaven is the first book in the Heaven Trilogy, a dystopian supernatural series. I think if you like dystopian stories, this is a really interesting read. The world building is sufficient, and the premise of righting systemic wrongs and Demon equality are plausible and compelling. For me, I struggled with the grammar, particularly the changing tense of the story, with it being mostly past tense, but with random present tense verbs constantly jumping into the mix. I’m not sure if this was because I had a review copy, but I assume it was close to what’s been published, as the book has been live for a couple of months. I also had some challenges determining the differences between Angels and Demons beyond their eye color. They seem to have quite a few other biological differences, but it wasn’t clearly defined.

That said, the story was interesting. It’s more an adventure with a dash of a love story, as there are no romantic overtures between Raphael and Dante. They have an attraction that grows from proximity and respect, and they consummate this eventually, with little fanfare. Raphael has long been known to take male lovers and Demon lovers, though he’s betrothed to a dear female Angel friend, who is also a close confidante. They are platonic and understand they have a political arrangement not a romantic one, which allows for both her and Raphael having “extramarital” partners. Anyway, the huge anti-Demon sentiment is another barrier that Raphael navigates with his princely privilege. It turns out he’s not the only Demon lover in his family, and that’s a wholly unexpected twist for Raphael to absorb in his quest to uproot the monarchy.

I really enjoyed the story. It was complex and held twists I didn’t anticipate. Raphael is a good man doing bad things to change his world. He recruits a Demon who’s only done what was necessary to survive, and then provides Dante avenues for revenge as well as acclaim. Their world is indeed broken and they will go to any lengths necessary to fix it, even if it means certain death. While doing so, Dante’s power grows to frightening levels, and it’s only a matter of time before his powers enable the entire Demon race to take the equality that they’ve been cruelly denied for a millennium. I expect the next book will bring extreme conflict, the way the revolution is fomenting at this point.

This is not a fluffy read. It’s madness and mayhem and a dash of love between unlikely partners. Expect plotting and exploitation and treason and bloodshed. To provoke war or conflict is to make oneself an Enemy of Heaven, punishable by death. Well, look at the title of the book–you can see what’s coming. As this is the first of a trilogy, readers should know that there’s a “happy for now” resolution that allows a pause in the action before Raphael and Dante dive back into the chaos.