*Disclaimer – The copy of Covenant that I am reviewing is an ARC that was received with the intention of a fair review.
*Disclaimer part 2 – As far as I know, God is not dead, seriously though lots of Angels, Demons, and Jinn died during the writing of this review. Angels are fucking crazy man…for reals. I don’t know what you’ve heard about demons and Jinn but those freaks are just as nuts. Really, everyone is fucking insane, really seems to enjoy art and violence. It’s all very odd.
Okay, that got out of hand quickly. I apologize you had to see that Reading Audience, I never wanted to expose you to the gross, inner workings of my diseased mind but it seems like this is one of those times the editors deem it necessary. If you don’t want to find out how deep this rabbit hole goes I suggest turning back now, that unfiltered part comes quickly….heh, “comes quickly”.
I feel like with any good pseudo-religious/YA Fantasy book review we should start out with the requisite blasphemy, and heresy, life wouldn’t be any fun without it. So let’s get to it. I have a confession, I sat at my keyboard for a good 3 hours after finishing Covenant. It’s not easy for me to admit, but I may have tried to masturbate to an airsoft gun enthusiasts magazine. To feel like a man again, that’s how it works right? No?…Well…shit.. Okay…Moving on.
Covenant is the second book in the series The Books of Raziel, it picks up immediately after the events of book one; Archon. Let’s dive right into this, if you liked Archon you are going to enjoy and possibly even love Covenant, if you didn’t enjoy Archon and it’s dearth of sentences describing architecture, environment, and the color of everyone’s hair then Covenant isn’t going to do it for you either. But does that mean I think it is a bad book? Not at all, there are masses of people that fiction like this appeals to. The author, Sabrina Benulis perhaps correctly recognizes this and strives to reach that sort of reader.
For those of you interested in checking out the series, let’s take a quick trip back to Archon to look at what leads into Covenant. The Books of Raziel tell the tale of Angela Mathers (That name bothers me to no end for some reason, still haven’t figured it out.), Angela is what is known in this alternate earth as a Bloodhead which is basically just a redheaded girl or boy. Apparently in this setting being a redhead is comparable to being left-handed in the not too distant past. The difference being redheads are feared because of a prophecy that implies a ginger will destroy the world. This prophecy has lead the Vatican, which seems to be all powerful and more than a little corrupt to found a city to watch over the blood heads and other people with “gifts”.
Welcome to the city of Luz, which is possibly the strongest character in both of the books so far. Ms. Benulis paints a haunting picture of this city mired in superstition and centuries past because of the effects of magic on technology. Luz is what kept me coming back to finish both these books. Which is unfortunate, because in the grand scheme of things when the setting outshines every one of the characters you create to populate it I believe it is time to revisit your notes. For every major player and character Angela meets, I can hardly remember any memorable moments or sympathetic qualities, and while Archon showed some hints at the possibility of future character development Covenant failed to deliver in any sense of the word. Gone is even the pretense, as Covenant seems to careen from violent act to violent act. While things definitely change and shift for the players in the story it seems like all of the changes are cosmetic and don’t actually make the reader care about the characters in any way. Which is disappointing, given that Archon hinted at something better. Maybe the third book in the series can redeem it for me, but at this point much like Angela, I have given in to despair. The book is filled with what for me seemed like trope after trope of mary sues, many of them never even realizing their full potential.
But all cannot be lost, right? For those of you that like stories of Angels, Demons, Jinn, and more supernatural romance than you can shake a stick at, you might enjoy this tale that Sabrina Benulis is crafting. There are hints in both Covenant and Archon of a story that is sitting right at the edges of this one, hoping to be crafted and told in a more fleshed out fashion. Let’s hope that it can find it’s way into the light.