I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. It will be released 3 December 2013.
I’ve been hoodwinked, snookered, hornswoggled by Ian Tregillis’ Something More Than Night. The novel is bizarre. We have two narrators, both of whom are angels–but not the kind of angels we’ve met before. And then there’s the murdered Archangel, Gabriel. The Jericho Trumpet is missing. The Metatron is pissed. On top of all this, it appears that the universe we know is only held together by the common imagining of the angelic Choir. There’s a lot to take in. Just when I thought things were starting to make sense and I knew what had happened to Gabriel, there’s a massive twist that turned everything I knew around.
The first narrator, Bayliss, is introduced just as Gabriel dies. He’s a throwback to the detectives of noir novels, right down to his patter. He’s on a little mission, in those opening chapters, to find a replacement for Gabriel. But things go wrong when he accidentally tags the sister of his original target, Molly. Molly the human dies and, in her place, is the angel Molly. Bayliss is a terrible mentor. He tells her to “lay low” and hurries off to try and figure out what happened to Gabriel. Molly has to pull him back when she’s attacked by two monstrous Cherubim who are looking for something, but she has no idea what. Molly has to join the investigation or her short second life might turn out to be that much shorter.
Between the two of them, our two angels-cum-gumshoes turn up a heavenly conspiracy. There’s a possibly crooked priest, damaged Plenary Indulgences, weird physics, and, somewhere in the middle of it all, the truth. I picked this book up because I adored Tregillis’ Milkweed Trilogy, another story where the fate of the universe hung in the balance. Those books were a tangle, but more comprehensible than sections of Something More Than Night. There are passages where Bayliss and Molly talk about visiting the Pleroma, the wilderness where most angels make their home. All I could think as I read (or skimmed or, if I’m honest, skipped), was that Tregillis had eaten a physics textbook and thrown up in his word processor. I think PhD candidates in physics might be lost in some of those expositions. I got the impression that you didn’t need to understand what was literally described, you were just meant to get a flavor of how this species experienced this version of reality.
I am glad I read Something More Than Night. It was original (though some of the plot points reminded me a lot of Kevin Smith’s Dogma, but with less swearing). Bayliss entertained me. I identified with Molly’s plight and perspective. The vocabulary was delicious. For all its problems, this book is much, much better than a lot of what’s out on the bookseller shelves right now.