Review: “Grievous Angels” by Brian Poole

“Grievous Angels” by Brian Poole

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 4 May 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Can one child be the world’s salvation? Or might he push it to the edge of destruction?

James Callahan isn’t a typical seven-year-old. Two years after disappearing with his desperate mother, a harrowing home invasion leaves James badly shaken and his mother brutally murdered. Ben Callahan had almost given up hope of seeing his lost son again, but the reunion isn’t all that Ben might have hoped. Traumatized by his mother’s death, James is slow to come out of his shell and events no one can quite explain surround the reunited family. Ben’s relatives and fiancée become enmeshed in the oddities that follow James like a specter he can’t shake. What really happened in a park when James’s sympathetic suffering seemed to save a heart attack victim? What do James’s vivid dreams signify? Is someone stalking the family? A late night intruder has the Callahans reeling, before events spin out of their control entirely.

Could James really be the key to an apocalyptic struggle foretold by a tormented ecclesiastic? Two powerful organizations operating in the shadows think so and engage in a deadly competition to acquire and control James. One uses the trappings of a self-help movement to mask far darker motivations and will neutralize James if they can’t control him. The other does nothing to hide that it’s a cult formed around a charismatic would-be prophet and thinks that James could trigger God’s reckoning on the world, leaving it all to burn. When these two ruthless factions ignite a bloody holy war in the streets of Boston, can the Callahan family survive? Can anyone?

Ben learns where James spent his missing years when the secretive group that protected him intervenes at a crucial juncture. Can Ben overcome his skepticism and rely on these modern knights to navigate the deadly pitfalls and impossible choices that beset the family at every turn? Can he give James the chance to survive into adulthood and embrace his destiny? Or is James doomed to become the casualty of a conflict foretold centuries ago that could engulf the world in catastrophe? When one false move could mean destruction beyond imaginations, what’s the ordinary father of an extraordinary child to do? Ben needs to figure it out quickly, before everything he loves is lost.

Review: This book was not really for me.

Plots come in two ways. Those that are/feel like they are written by outline writers, and those that are/feel like they are written by “pantsers.” (That means they were just written as the author went along, plotting on the way.) Neither is better or worse. It’s all a matter of personal preference. And I say “feel like” because some done with outlines read like the other type, or vice versa.

I am an outline writer. It’s my preference to read stories that feel like they were done off an outline, whether they were or not, I just like the feeling of structure and organization that comes with that.

This book didn’t have that, at least not in my opinion. It felt like it was just written as ideas came and no one went back and fixed it when scenarios, events and interactions felt repeated and others felt without any real purpose. Like there was a great deal of suspense built up that was then dropped when it went nowhere. Not to mention it doesn’t feel like any character, even our supposed “experts,” had any clue what they were doing.

None of the characters (except the bad guys) are…to be disliked, but I had trouble liking most of them too. (Well, I mostly liked Mark and Sean. Lindsay started good, but fell short before long. Ben was all anger issues, but then, any parent would understand.)

My other big gripe is that it felt like we had a real issue with our female characters. They were crazy or evil, except for one who felt a little pointless to the story and the main one who was nothing more than a light to shine on the male main character. A character to support and sacrifice, without any point to her existence in the story otherwise.

I’m a woman. I write about strong women. I don’t mind books with evil women for the villains, but balance it out. Give us some strong female characters with their own purposes in the story. Not to say that supportive characters aren’t important, but they need to be more than just sacrificial lambs.

Because of all this, the ending that was supposed to be “the beautiful tragic” just ended up falling flat for me.

But the writing itself was not bad otherwise, and it is fast-paced, and I can’t say I seriously disliked it. It just fell flat for my tastes and was not the story for me. 2.5 Fireballs.

2.5 Fireballs

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