High in the remote mountains, the town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity. Divinity is the remains of the body of the rebel Abaddon, who fell to earth during Heaven’s War, and it powers the world’s most inventive and innovative technologies, ushering in a new age of progress. However, only the descendants of those that rebelled, called Fallen, possess the ability to see the rich lodes of the precious element. That makes them a necessary evil among the good and righteous people called the Elect, and Goetia a town segregated by ancestry and class.
Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, bound by blood but raised in separate worlds. Celeste grew up with her father, passing in privileged Elect society, while Mariel stayed with their mother in the Fallen slums of Goetia. Upon her father’s death, Celeste returns to Goetia and reunites with Mariel. Mariel is a great beauty with an angelic voice, and Celeste, wracked by guilt for leaving her sister behind, becomes her fiercest protector.
When Mariel is accused of murdering a Virtue, the powerful Order of the Archangels that rule Goetia, Celeste must take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) and defend her sister in the secretive courts of the Virtue. Celeste, aided by her ex-lover, Abraxas, who was once one of the rebels great generals, sets out to prove Mariel innocent. But powerful forces among the Virtues and the Elect mining barons don’t want Celeste prying into their business, and Mariel has secrets of her own. As Celeste is drawn deeper into the dark side of Goetia, she unravel a layer of lies and manipulation that may doom Mariel and puts her own immortal soul at risk, in this dark fantasy noir from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse.
Centuries ago there was a war between Heaven and Hell… Heaven won. Now the town of Goetia is booming thanks to the mining of an element called Divinity, mined from the body of the fallen Abaddon himself & the town is run by those Heaven descended, with the Fallen, the descendants of those that rebelled seen as lesser. Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, though Celeste’s Elite parentage mean she is more able to fit into polite society. When Mariel is accused of murdering an Elite, Celeste knows that death is surely swift to follow, but she is determined to save her sister no matter the cost. She will bargain with demons and the Elite themselves, putting herself in danger, but Celeste will have to decide how much of herself she is willing to give to save her sister, especially when her innocence is called into question.
There was a lot about this book I enjoyed, and one of those parts was the characters, especially Celeste. As an older sister, I couldn’t help but empathise with her need to protect her younger sister. Her willingness to put herself in danger, to make deals with some suspect people. She isn’t naive, but she does hold her sister on a bit of a pedestal, always aware of the fact that, whilst she can hide her fallen heritage, Marisol cannot, and this is something that holds a weight on her heart, and is the main reason she would never abandon her. All that being said, towards the end of the book, she did jump around a little, made some suspect decisions that seemed to go against her character at the start of the book, and by the end I certainly wasn’t her biggest fan. I do think, has these been a full book rather than a Novella, this problem might have been fixed had we been given more time with our characters.
Celeste is by far the main player in this novella, but Roanhorse does a brilliant job of including a strong side cast of characters, from Celeste and Marisol’s Fallen Friends, to the Elite she meets whilst trying to save her sisters live. But my favourite by far was Azrael, Demon and Celeste’s past lover. Their relationship truly showed how much Celeste loved Marisol, how much she was willing to risk for her. It’s not a fun relationship, and their romance plays a small part in the overall story, but it really adds to the depth of Celeste’s character and I did enjoy seeing his strength of feeling for her, and her love for him despite them knowing it would never work.
The world was incredibly well built, Roanhorse gives us just the right amount of information to get us through the Novella without any confusion, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want more. Maybe that’s because I’m a sucker for world building, for learning as much about these magical worlds as I can, but I desperately wanted this to be a full book, so we could get a proper deep dive into the world and the characters that inhabit it. As with any Roanhorse book, the writing was sublime and drew me into the story from the first line. I loved the Western/ Cowboy vibe she gives the world, with saloons, gambling dens etc, but instead of Cowboys vs Indians it’s Angels vs Demons. The pacing is sublime. Being a Novella we never really have any slower moving parts, and Roanhorse adds in plenty of plot twist to keep the pace moving.
I really did enjoy this, but I just wanted more. More character development, more world building, and I think, had this been a full novel instead of a Novella, I would have been more satisfied with the ending.