Conspiracy of Angels: A Novel of the Shadowside
Shadowside, Book #1
By Michelle Belanger
Author’s website: www.michellebelanger.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
In this pulse-pounding urban fantasy, Conspiracy of Angels is in a league of its own. Borrowing heavily from biblical mythology, Nephilim, Anakim and Daughters of Lilith are just a smattering of the pawns in this larger than life chess game. Check, mate and match, it delivers a powerful punch to those who like their cities dark, characters unpredictable, and intrigue abound. Delivered at a breakneck speed, it draws the reader in and doesn’t let loose until the final piece is played. Following the adventures (and misadventures) of amnesiac Zachery Westland, Conspiracy of Angels plays the right moves at the right time, all the way until the bittersweet end.
Michelle Belanger, an author I know more from her true life psychic phenomena novels has delivered the coup de grace here when it comes down to page turning adventures. Witty, terse, and fast paced, the writing has to be commended. With a tight word economy, that only lapses in few places, the scenes are well laid out and flow like the eddies of Lake Erie off the shores of a dark Cleveland, the setting for this book. Her knowledge of the mystical perseveres throughout the novel, lending it an almost unprecedented authority. The writing only lets out what Zachery learns about himself and despite the quick reading time, it holds you fast. There is no mistaking the latent talent here. The writing is solid and accomplishes its primary goals, which includes getting the reader to the end of the book in one piece.
The characters were well developed for the most part but they fell short in some scenes. The dialogue between characters was authentic, to a point. Given what the reader learns about the dramatis personae, some act, well just plain oddly at times – almost as if the characters have stepped out of the story for a moment and come back with new behavioral traits. This lack of character “learning” takes a bit of the mystique out of the characters, rendering them two and a half dimensional throughout. Dialogue between them, however, is the hallmark that allows you to get by this. Poignant, it functions as a literary tool to either thicken the intrigue or propel the plot forward; in any which way, it is always entertaining.
Despite any shortcomings in the characterization, what really grabs your attention in the novel is the intrigue, mystery, and suspense. Belanger has done a remarkable job plotting the twists and turns in this hectic adventure, moving the reader along at a frantic pace, desperate to learn more about the inhabitants of Shadowside, and the characters that surround it. Avid lovers of mystery, even if they are new to this aspect of Michelle’s writing, I believe will find this a delightfully intricate plot filled with plenty of surprises. The strongest piece in the set, the Queen, has a story to tell, and that story is remarkable.
Lovers of urban fantasy, biblical mythology, and mystery enthusiasts will find plenty to like in Conspiracy of Angels. Michelle Belanger has crafted a fine story here and there is something everyone can relate to. The writing is well executed, the plot solid, and the characters, while not as rounded as they should be, hold the reader’s attention long enough to get this quick paced thriller an easy read that will lead you to wonder what more lurks on the Shadowside.