When the publisher sent me an email about The Watchers, Book #1 of the Angelus Trilogy by award-winning journalist and author Jon Steele, I wasn’t sure what to do because I don’t normally review novels about angels. When I read the concept, however, I sensed that this trilogy was going to be very different. I was intrigued to say the least, so I agreed to read The Watchers while making it clear that if I didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be reviewed. I have to laugh about that now. All three novels in this trilogy are tomes yet I didn’t want to put any of them down, even when my arms were screaming at me or I needed to do something silly like eat or sleep. I would finally reluctantly stop reading only when I got double vision – they’re that good. I’ve included links to my reviews of the first two books, The Watchers and Angel City at the end of this review.
Book #3 is The Way of Sorrows and I put off reading it because I hated to think the Angelus Trilogy was going to end. I’ve grown to love these characters, the world they inhabit, and the story. I didn’t want to say good-bye to any of them, with possibly the exception of some super-bad uglies and Inspector Gobet. Gobet just irritates the hell out of me with his “need to know” reticence even when I understand why he behaves that way. I’m still calling this trilogy a thriller, with paranormal, supernatural and spiritual threads running through it. I realize it could also be called sci-fi – oh what the hell – it simply defies genre classification and that’s one of the things I love about it.
Whether you’ve read the first two novels or not, I encourage you to enter our giveaway because you can always download e-books of the first two novels to read – and – one of you is going to win The Way of Sorrows!
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the first two novels, click on the link for The Watchers at the bottom of this review and read it instead of this review. These novels do have to be read in order because Jon Steele has built a very complex world. It may sound like our world at least in part but, trust me, it’s an alternate view of our world and that world gets built beautifully in Book #1.
Because I know some of you can’t resist peeking ahead, this is going to be the shortest review in history. I refuse to spoil the story for you…so there.
Katherine awakes to find her memory wiped. When she looks around, she wonders if she’s somehow ended up in hell because surely no place could be worse than this one.
Detective Harper, an angel inside of a British soldier – don’t ask, meanwhile has been frantically searching for her because he knows the only hope for completing his mission is to find her and her son, Max. Max is the world’s only hope to avoid an unholy apocalypse, according to the intel Harper has been given. That said, he’d be looking anyway because of the deep connection they’ve formed.
This last book will take us from Lausanne to Oregon, or rather a place out of time housed in Oregon, to Alaska to Russia and, finally to Jerusalem. There Harper will come face to face with things repeatedly wiped from his memory to protect him until the time was right for him to learn who he really is and what he’s really been put on earth to do.
The characters in the Angelus Trilogy quickly become like old friends – friends like Marc Rochat, a gentle soul who rings the bells at Lausanne Cathedral; friends like Jay Harper, who does what he has to do no matter what even when he can’t recall who he is; friends like Katherine, who continues to pick up the pieces and survive no matter what horrifying thing is thrown at her next; friends like Krinkle, a rock band front man slash angel slash bad ass; and even friends like Inspector Gobet, who seemed like a real jerk to me a lot of the time. Even the cathedral bells have personalities, thanks to Marc’s beautiful communion with them. And the bad guys are known as goons, giving a whole new horrific depth to my idea of goondom.
I could gush forever about this trilogy, so I’m just going to say – read it already! You won’t regret one minute of it, and you’ll build biceps too if you get the hardcopy version. 😉
Excerpts from a Q&A Session with Jon Steele:
Q: How has your background as a cameraman informed your vision of the world in the Angelus Trilogy?
A: I’ll answer with another memory. Once, as a cameraman covering the Rwandan genocide, I was sweating inside a truck, surrounding by two hundred Hutu madmen. Some [were] waving bloody machetes and knives, some with slicing signs across their throats…meaning mine. It was torture, and it went on for hours.
Then a thin African man in a black suit, wearing glasses and carrying an open umbrella against the sun, appeared at the edge of the crowd. He worked through the mob and got to the truck. He spoke Russian through the rolled-up window. I answered in English, and he quickly shifted to my native tongue. “These people are very simple. I will help you,” he said. And he stood at the front of the truck to calm the mob. He said if they killed me, no more food would come. (I was tagging along with a UN convoy delivering food to a Hutu refugee camp.)…
He turned back to me nervously and signaled to start driving ahead. The mob settled and parted for a moment, but soon began to press against the truck. As I passed the man with the umbrella, he looked at me: “Do not stop, keep going. Please, do not stop.” There was desperation in his voice. Leaving the camp, I got a glimpse of him in the side mirror. The mob crushed in on him, the umbrella disappeared. I didn’t make this up. ITN reporter James Mates was with me. It’s in my memoir, War Junkie.
…I asked James, ‘Who the hell was he?” James said, “I don’t know.” “You believe in angels? I said. James thought about it. “Yes, I do. And after today, maybe you should, too.” I wrote in my diary that all through the night there was the taste of blood in my mouth, and it would not go away.
Memories of my life behind the camera not only inform my writing, they define it.
Q: Looking back on the complete trilogy, what would you say are the more defining characteristics and themes of the series? What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
A: Angels, demons, false prophets and rock and roll: a private eye without a memory of a life, a high class hooker on the run, a mysterious brain injured young man who lives in the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral in Switzerland and calls the hour through the night, a fat grey cat who talks, a Swiss cop in a cashmere coat; drugs, drink, merciless killers, lost souls, quantum mechanics,, creation mythology, religion, evolution, an ancient prophecy buried in the Dead Sea Scrolls; beforetimes and nowtimes, Planck time, nuclear Armageddon in real time…all coming together as the Voyager One spacecraft (launched from Earth in 1977) crosses a previously unknown region of the heliosphere and breaks into interstellar space, with a gold disc onboard bearing an SOS to the creator of the universe that paradise is headed for a mass extinction event.
As far as what I hope readers take away from the trilogy: that we come to know – as the dominant and most destructive species on the planet – that the universe lives within us, as we live within the universe. That the surety of our universe, and the undiscovered multiverse science is only beginning to imagine, is the living, breathing body of the creator. How dare we arrogant creatures destroy our corner of this sacred form, for no better reason than it is profitable to do so. Amen.
Q: The Way of Sorrows is the final book in the trilogy. No spoilers – but did anything surprise you in writing the conclusion to the series? Did everyone end up where you thought they would?
A: As far as the story itself, no, nothing surprised me. I knew the ending of the trilogy before I started writing The Watchers. It was the same with Angel City and The Way of Sorrows: knowing the last sentence of each book before writing the first. So all in all, the characters and plot ended as I imagined in the beginning.
The surprise in TWoS was the epilogue. I thought I would leave the book as is, ending at the final chapter. My publisher at Blue Rider Press, David Rosenthal, read the manuscript and sent me a letter, asking for – no, demanding – an epilogue: something to ease the reader back into the real world after their long, emotional trip through the mystical noir world of The Angelus Trilogy. I took my laptop to Lausanne Cathedral where it all began:…I sat on the altar and stared at the keyboard, not knowing what to write. All of a sudden, a vision flashed through my eyes and words began to appear on the screen. My fingers were doing the typing, but they were not my words. I promise you, the epilogue was by someone else, not me. An angel, maybe. Actually, that would be my best guess. That was my surprise.
Can’t wait to read the Angelus Trilogy? All three books are available from your favorite online bookseller. Just click the link below and you can have them to read immediately. They’d also make a great holiday gift!
I’d love to get your comments on The Way of Sorrows, Jon Steele and/or his other work, and/or this review. Click here to read our review of The Watchers, Book #1 in this trilogy, and here to read our review of Angel City, Book #2 in the trilogy.
One lucky reader will win a hardcover copy of The Way of Sorrows by Jon Steele!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 11/21/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is only open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
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6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Once you’re notified that you’ve won, please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!