About the author: Bruce Blake is a relatively new author. This novel appears to have been his first full-length effort; previously he had only published short stories. He has an Amazon page where we learn that he’s Canadian, which is pretty interesting, eh? He also has a personal site, and can be found on Good Reads and other similar places.
On Unfaithful Wings starts off as a rather laboured morality tale. We are introduced to Icarus Fell, a man with a stupid name, who has screwed up his life. (And yes, the obligatory Greek mythology references are made. As are puns. And some moralising about the parallels between his choices and his namesake’s.) Icarus is then killed off in the first chapter, dies in the second chapter, and spends the third being counselled by the archangel Michael. Oh my, why am I reading this? (This thought recurred frequently throughout the book. When I expressed this thought out loud, I was asked why I actually was. Turns out that I wanted to know what happens next. Oops.)
My senses are alert to ponderous Christian Fiction since my review of Cool Beans, but On Unfaithful Wings doesn’t develop in that way. In fact, it turns into a rather gory horror thriller. Maybe it would have been better if it had have had developed in that way, as at least it would have developed! I felt that the story meandered along without too much direction for too long.
The plot, such as it is. Actually, before I start this off, I’m going to admit something: I’ve never been an addict. Not to drugs, alcohol, videogames, whatever else. I get interested in things, get enthused, and then it tails off. I haven’t had the “I will destroy my life and everyone around me to have more of thing“-type of experiences. This made rather a lot of the book rather hard to engage with, as Icarus Fell is an alcoholic junkie with some serious judgement issues. After being killed, Fell is tasked with ferrying souls to heaven, in return for which he will be given a fresh start at life. Exactly why this scenario is offered is one of the few mysteries that the story holds. Anyhow, it’s a fresh plot device, so at least the book manages something fresh. However, the character will frequently do things that are so stupid, so counter-intuitive to his task (a Macguffin of “saving his son, who isn’t his biological son, but is the one thing”, etc etc) that you’re left wondering how he reaches that conclusion. Fell chooses not to ferry the soul of the abusive priest who raised him to Heaven, and from that action the meat of the book develops. The priest remains on Earth to exact vengeance upon Fell, who he blames for the corruption and death of Fell’s mother.
Now, it sounds as though I didn’t enjoy the book, which is not entirely true. Like I said, the concept is novel, and it is pretty well-written. The author has a good turn-of-phrase, spends enough time with his adjectives, but (happily) doesn’t become overly florid. He also utilises the first-person perspective quite well. The story moves along, and it is quite possible that my early misgivings where less the book’s fault, and more a result of me not being sufficiently focused when I started reading.
Maybe some of the problem is that I couldn’t relate to the protagonist: “Normally I’m very good at taking advantage of the guilt of others.” Most charming.
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