Archon (The Books of Raziel #1)
by Sabrina Benulis.
Archon is book one in a series about Angela Mathers, a troubled young woman who dreams of angels and is apparently unkillable (she knows, she’s tried). The book starts as she’s released from a mental institution and starting out at a new university, West Wood Academy, a priest-run school for blood heads like her (red-headed children with powers). Society sends all such children to one place, because one of them is going to be the prophesied Archon, who will unlock the lost book of the archangel Raziel and have the power to remake the universe. And seeing as Angela dreams of angels, she is attracting attention from anyone who has a stake in the Archon prophecy, whether they want to stop her or control her.
This was a breathless, strange little book. And I mean that in a good way. Breathless because things happen so fast and even the characters that the narrative is following don’t fully understand everything as it’s happening. Strange because it’s this odd blend of alternate reality, dark fantasy, theology, mystery, and YA romance. There are red-headed witches, evil angels, half-demon priests, and a whole lot of surreal gothic ambiance (somewhat unclear, but I think it’s supposed to take place in the future). Also a whole lot of bloody violence, shifting alliances and trust issues. It makes for a compelling read, because you’re never quite sure as a reader whose side someone is on or what their end game is. It’s not the type of read you can skim- you will miss important details if you do that, and probably be confused. But if you pay attention, enough questions are answered that you will be drawn into the world of the story.
Overall it was a satisfying read in itself, but also sets the stage for a pretty sweeping fantasy series. It’s definitely on the darker side, though, so if you’re looking for something light and fluffy, this may not be for you.