by C.L. Polk
Narrated by January LaVoy
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a fantastic audiobook narrated by January LaVoy. She really amplified the emotions that drove the development of the story. The character personalities and the tension of the situation really shines.
This novella packs so much into its pages! I adored the noir 1940s setting. It’s so easy to go over the top when trying to present this to an audience but I felt like the author did such a good job of placing us there. Because of this though, some of the real world issues of that time were NOT sugar coated, which made a couple of scenes sad to read. Knowing that though, these scenes felt important for us to really understand the severity of the situation. And that situation? Being queer in a time it was outlawed and considered an asylum worthy offense.
This isn’t the core conflict that Helen, the main character, finds herself in though. The big aspect of the plot is the supernatural investigation that is happening. I LOVED how this played out. It’s not the first time I’ve read a noir mystery in this genre, but the way the author handled the mythological aspect in this one really makes it stand out. The primary focus is angels, demons and magic users that are part of mysterious organizations. This part of the plot feels really deep yet doesn’t bog down the narrative too much with a biblical lesson because yes, the angel part of this is the traditional way we know them. We get just enough to understand what is happening and the religious aspect is not heavy handed at all. I definitely appreciated this.
For me though, it was the personal aspect of the story that makes it so good. I absolutely fell in love with Helen and Edith’s relationship. Helen is a character with a big secret, and to be fair, Edith actually has a pretty big secret that we learn too. These secrets are huge plot points. Their relationship was sweet and passionate and the driving point to all the decisions the characters make through the story. It’s the fact that I wanted to see them succeed that made me feel so tense throughout the narrative. I really couldn’t say where things would go at any point.
This is one of those stories that hits hard on an emotional level and by the end I struggled with the various feelings I was left with. This was terrific though. I love a story that makes me sit with what I read for a while. My only issue I had with the whole thing was just the fact that it needed to be longer. Yes it definitely told the story it meant to, but I did feel like there were a couple of aspects that deserved more attention. Helen’s brother Teddy felt sort of dropped into the story suddenly, and yes he really kind of was, but I would have loved more about him. Especially since he is important to the plot. Related to that as well, the magical organizations that work in the shadows could have used more attention too. We get almost no information about these beyond how they relate to Helen. There was so much I would have loved to know more about. While this was an amazing story, it deserved to be longer, specifically in the middle areas of the story. The ending was fantastic and I would not want it to go beyond that point. Like I said before, it made me need to sit with my emotions after the narrative was done.
This was a great story that definitely ends in a way I wasn’t expecting. I was left feeling both ecstatic and heartbroken. Highly recommend for a quick but emotional read.
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