Published July 21, 2011.
When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, the Crusades, world wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East crisis. The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God’s angels have been fighting Satan’s demons on Earth to try to prevent Satan’s greatest ambition-the apocalypse.
Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.
Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian “Batty” LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side-and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pairs up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind’s darkest imagination. (netgalley.com)
I’m gonna be honest. I probably wouldn’t be as interested in a title like this if it weren’t for Supernatural. Do you blame me? C’mon . . . have you SEEN Castiel? And maybe a little bite of Crowley, if for nothing more than his snarkitude?
But I liked what this book was promising. It’s got religion without too much Jesus going on (actually there was hardly any at all); there isn’t much god about it either, believe it or not. The focus is really on the angels, and the demon angels (in this world there aren’t any demons a la Supernatural, the “demons” are fallen angels on Lucifer’s side), and the fight to open up Hell’s door and release Lucy from his cage. I liked that. There was a heavy theological element without it being preachy or, in Callahan’s words, all woo-woo with the divine. It had a purpose and it stuck to it.
I liked this book to the point that I want to go out and read more of Browne’s works. This guy writes up my alley, and not all of his stuff is like THE PARADISE PROPHECY either. But he does write thrillers and, judging just by this book, he writes them well.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a non-YA book that had me rocketing through it and Browne’s PARADISE did just that. He writes in such a way that even when there isn’t any action going on in the chapter, it feels like it. There’s always some kind of threat lingering, even if it’s off the page, and he makes sure that his characters feel it.
And his characters! They are haunted, damaged beings and he torments them with it. And I love it, the sadist that I am. Both Callahan and LaLaurie have some very large chips that they have to carry around on their shoulders but it doesn’t sour them as characters. They don’t sit around and pity themselves. They’re not a drain on the plot. They have their issues but they turn them around into strengths. Even the most gruesome of pasts turns out to be helpful to the overall cause.
The only part that I was less than thrilled with was the ending. I felt it was a bit anticlimactic and ended a bit too abruptly for my liking. Like a button was pushed and poof! Over! It could have been set up for a sequel but I’m not sure if PARADISE is anything more than a stand alone. Other than that, even the fallen angels he uses are multidimensional. They, too, have weaknesses. Even angels aren’t perfect and I like that.
Everything I was reading just felt so real. It felt like Browne had a firm grasp on the Christian mythos and what he created eased seamlessly into it, making it read as if it were something that really did/could happen. PARADISE never felt kitchy or over the top. I never felt like it was reaching for something that wasn’t there. It was a level-headed, action-packed jet through the apocalypse. I’m willing to take another ride.
I think THE PARADISE PROPHECY would appeal even to readers of YA that have a thing for the angels and demons mythos. Even thought the characters aren’t young, their ages aren’t factors in the story so while reading it, they could have been much younger (although with Callahan’s experience, that would have made the story reaching). But it’s not about the age. The story is just great. If you’re looking for an angels and demons story that DOESN’T revolves around some thinly-veiled abusive relationship between angels and humans, you’ll find it with PARADISE. In fact, there really isn’t much love interest at all in this. It keeps to the point and it’s a point you’ll want to ride all the way to the end. And then it’ll leave you craving for more.
Ban Factor: High – Really? With how this book bastardizes Christianity? The banners would want to light it on fire. Irrespective of the sexy times.