A Noir Urban Fantasy — FIVE STARS

on unfaithful wingsI first ran across Mr. Blake when I saw his second book, “All Who Wander Are Lost” in my regular daily “freebooksie.com” mailing. I am always thrilled to get those – I don’t always find all of the books to my taste, but the cover of that one grabbed me right away and the description sounded interesting, so I downloaded it. I started reading it this morning before noticing it was a second in series, after “On Unfaithful Wings”. After reading a few pages, I was hooked and downloaded OUF so I could start at the beginning. I am so glad I did.

The characters of the Icarus Fell novels are by no means bright and cheery ‘angels running around with wings saving souls’ and these are no bright and sparkly novels. They are dark, moody pieces with a deeply noir feeling and a sharp edge to the humour which abounds throughout the book. Icarus himself, the victim of vicious childhood abuse by a priest, finds himself lost and alone on the streets, deep into drugs and booze, traumatized past what he considers any sort of salvation at all. Murdered one night in the graveyard of the same church where his abuse took place, he awakens six months later in a nasty No-Tell Motel to find that he is a Reaper of sorts. And things get even weirder and darker after that.

It. Was. Awesome. The whole feeling of the book can be described by this quote from the early pages:

“And, let’s face it, if God existed, he probably looked down one day on the shite he created, packed up his tent and went somewhere else to give it another shot, hoping for better luck on the second go-round.”

Mr. Blake does a perfect job of skewering the ridiculous nature of religion when looked at from a logical rather than superstitious view. The angels are, at best, incompetent clowns more intent on their political games than on actually doing good. One of the ‘good’ angels is guilty of rape and another is more interested in proving a point than helping Icarus save either his son or a kind-hearted selfless nun.

Is Icarus really better off helping the so-called good guys? Or are the so-called good guys so far off of reality that they don’t even qualify as such any longer? Child molesting priests meant to go to heaven, nuns carted off to hell and one comment by an angel that really points out the weirdness of it all:

“Murder is a tool. Just because someone kills someone else, it doesn’t make them evil. You’re all instruments of God.”

Perfect! Murdered and abused children, rape, torture. It’s all good! Blake writes the story that I have always wanted to write – if there really is a God, it is removed far enough from our reality as to no longer exist, if it ever did at all. And he does it with a turn of phrase and intelligence that led me at warp speed through his writing.

Overall, this is a dark, moody piece which left me sad in places and laughing hysterically in others. A Reaper who has a solid body and can be shot, knifed and beaten – and can’t really afford a car to go pick up his next soul for delivery? Love it. I am so looking forward to the next installment. If you are a fan of the old noir detective stories, the Nightside novels, or similar you will these novels. Off to read the next one!