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Banished to Hell for his role in the plot, fallen angel Xaphan is doomed to tempt and seduce human souls while, high above, Hael, his former lover, is supposed to be the angel of kindness who brings compassion into their world. Both are unhappy with their lot, but a meeting with one human soul will change their lives.
“Xaphan. His alpha, his omega, and his unending obsession.
His eyes, the length of his lashes, the creases around his mouth and nose…the dimples in his cheeks when he laughed, like he did in those secret, cherished moments. The sense of earnest urgency about him in other times. How he could plunder new sensations from Hael’s body, rip the most secret pleasures from him and make them profane, make him scream and cuss and beg, sweat-drenched and trembling, ready to endure anything except letting him go.
Anything but that.”
“And make them profane”. I’m trying to quote-bait you of course, but it’s also that this bit of sentence struck me, because that’s what this story does.
Often, love stories start from earthly desires and torments to lead us toward the sacred nature of love and its ultimate power of redemption. Or something like that. What this story does – and I can’t convey how incredibly rich it is – is first to seize Heaven as much as a concept as a setting, and makes it host a love with undeniable erotic qualities alongside angelic preoccupations about Love, perfection, obeisance and free will. It throws the lovers right at the heart of the crisis that will tear them apart while Heaven is splitting and angels are falling. Then, it’s all about the unbearable separation, angels and demons fighting in a war whose roots reach far deeper than a basic struggle between Good and Evil. In-between, at the core of everything, it’s about humanity, its right to imperfection and failure, its propensity for guilt. Starting from Heaven and Hell, the story telling questions a lot to lead us toward our human nature. Flawed and freil, yes, but….
The story is divided in two very distinctive parts, and I have two very distinctive feelings about them.
I just can’t tell you how magnificent the first part is without drowning you under flowery declarations of love (more than I probably already did, that is). I am once again amazed by M. King’s use of words, how easily she flies from one level of language to another, how poetic her prose is, without ever falling into purple-empty nonsense.
The second part and the addition of a third POV made me experience my own version of a fall. I was in “Heaven-and-Hell” that I never wanted to leave, and the author shoved me in “paranormal-contemporary”. Brutal. Human humour mollified me a bit, but I’ve resented this second part, this POV. Yet, can I consider that as a critic? As a matter of fact, I’m still thinking about it. True, I rationalized this part while I was basking in the first, but it is the logical, unavoidable step in her development, the path toward the conclusion.
My recommendation: go grab this story ASAP, shut the world out for a few hours – it is a short read, but you’ll need time to pause and ponder and reread -, summon your literary mood, curl up in a cosy bubble with this precious. And savour.
RATING: 5 STARS