Archive for February 23rd, 2012

Archon, a stunning debut from Sabrina Benulis

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

 Archon: The Books of Raziel By Author Sabrina BenulisArchon: The Books of Raziel

Sabrina Benulis

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Angela Mathers is obsessed with visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night.

Released from a mental institution, she hopes her new university, West Wood Academy, will give her the chance at a normal life.

But such is not to be … A secret coven plots within West Wood and demons and angels alike walk the streets of Luz, searching for the key to open Raziel?s book–a secret tome from a lost archangel. Some wish to destroy Raziel; others, like the Supernal Israfel, one of the highest of the high, desire to free him. For when the Archon rises as foretold, they will control the supernatural universe.

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, Angela holds the key to both Heaven and Hell, and both will stop at nothing to possess her.

This spectacular supernatural debut is both fabulously written and extremely commercial–it?s perfect for the many readers who have made Lauren Kate and Melissa Marr bestsellers.

Format: Trade (UK) paperback, 400 pages
ISBN: 9780062128171
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 01, 2012

ALI’S THOUGHTS

Archon is not the usual light, relaxing story; it’s intense, in-depth, complicated and borders on being labeled epic, but it is very, very good.

The basic premise is there is a prophecy that says a red-headed child will cause the ruin of the world: death, destruction, mayhem, demons from hell ruling the earth, just your basic everyday apocalypse. Because of this, the Vatican moved itself to an island off the coast of America, and people started sending their red-headed children (nick named ‘Blood Heads’ because of their potential for unleashing terror on the world) to the island. In an interesting additional layer to the plot, these Blood Heads have a tendency to have some form of supernatural power.

Our protagonist, Angela, is a basket case. A hated blood head, she was horribly abused by her parents, until their ‘accidental’ death in her early teens. She’s been in and out of institutions, and has only recently given up trying to commit suicide, as, miraculously, every attempt she has somehow survived, although not without scars.

Not unexpectedly, Archon can get very dark in places, and if you have a tendency to skim read, as I discovered to my bane is my habit, then this book can quickly get on top of you. As simply missing a word in a sentence can change the entire meaning of the chapter.

Part of the confusion, for me, was the way in which plot elements were delivered. Again, this is quite a complicated story that does require a degree of careful reading to really pick up on the subtleties, but to keep a sense of mystery and suspense, explanations where delivered very frugally, and it is easy to miss a significant detail in the middle of an otherwise straightforward paragraph.

Archon is a story enjoyed more for the actual story than the characters; there isn’t a lot of emotional connection encouraged between reader and characters, no chance to bond while you’re trying to understand what’s going on.

Ironically, for a book involving Angels, in a world run by the Vatican, with monks as teachers of a school, there was a surprising lack of religion. There was, obviously, a far amount of the ceremonial elements and the mythology, both of which tied in nicely to the plot, but no actual overt Christian philosophy.

One of the things this book really did was open my eyes to my own reading habits, with its never ending attempt to turn my world on its ear. Things like gender assignations to names, which tend to help form an image of the personality, get completely alters as some of the characters seem to have the ability to be gender neutral. This is particularly apparent with the characters of the Angels, and their ability to swap genders, but also with the language used to describe them. The concept that ‘God’ is a masculine name is shown to be as accurate as “Author” must mean male.

The mystery and build up were interesting, and the play on preconceived ideas fascinating; but the characters interaction was often abysmal. We have one scene where the character is about to have sex (or at least make out), presumably for the first time, with object of lust. During the scene (I don’t think it was more than implied that they were actually having sex by the way), they chatted about what was going on with their day. Sabrina Benulis has a gift for being able to write wonderfully thought provoking concepts, but hopefully I never have to worry about another intimate scene with her characters.

Overall, fascinating read, but not for the faint hearted, with lots of new ideas and original presentations of old ones which will appeal to the careful reader.

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