Tread of Angels

Book Reviews / Saturday, November 19th, 2022

By: Rebecca Roanhorse
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Saga Press

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I love Rebecca Roanhorse’s books. I first found her when I read Race to the Sun, her YA fantasy based on Native American mythology, published through Rick Riordan Presents. I went on to read Black Sun and Fevered Star, the first two books in her Between the Earth Sky Trilogy. When I saw this book, I was naturally drawn to it, having loved all of Ms. Roanhorse’s work. I wish l can say that I enjoyed this book, but it there were many elements, that when put together, simply did not work. It was a quick read, a little over 200 pages.

The setting was the old west, but there was a specific element, Divinity, that was mined which allowed for the creation of things like elevators, lighting, airships, and other mechanical inventions. It gave it somewhat of a steampunk feel. Ms. Roanhorse always creates incredibly vivid worlds where it is easy to picture the story setting, and this was done just as well. It takes place in the mining town of Goetia, where Divinity is mined. Long ago, there was a war between angels and demons, and the angels prevailed. Now the town is divided between the Virtues, the winners who rule, and the Fallen, descendants of the demons. While they live in the same town, the Virtues clearly have all the wealth and power, while the Fallen run the town’s establishments. Virtues mete out justice in cruel ways, justifying it by using it as God’s judgement and wisdom.

The main protagonist is Celeste, a card dealer at Eden, one of the casino’s in Goetia. She is half Virtue and Fallen, but chooses to live with the Fallen, with her sister Mariel. She is very protective of her sister, as their parents are gone, and she puts her above all else. Hypatia is the woman who owns and runs Eden. I always like that Ms. Roanhorse has inclusion. Hypatia is gay and one of the Eden women, Lilith, is her lover. Zeke is the bartender and inventor, and a great person. He’s the character you always want to be friends with. All of these characters were very well developed. Unfortunately, Celeste and Mariel were very unlikable characters that I just could not connect with. I know this was a dark fantasy and that there will be morally grey characters. I felt they went beyond that. I liked Hypatia and Zeke very much. However, Celeste has a falling out with her, and we don’t see her again for almost half the book. Zeke we don’t see much of as well.

Since the book was so short, I felt everything was rushed because there was so much packed into it-too much for such a short book. I was able to finish it in a short time, and even though there was plenty of action, I just didn’t like how the story ultimately unfolded. It is told in third person perspective of Celeste, and I found her such an unlikable character, I wasn’t drawn into the story like I wanted to be. There were some surprising twists, others that I knew were going to happen, so they were not at all surprising. The end left me very unsatisfied as well.

Tread of Angels does have all the hallmarks of Ms. Roanhorse’s writing. Vivid world building, well developed characters, and an intricate plot. I do wish I enjoyed it more. If you are a fan of dark fantasy, with characters, who I felt were just immoral, you will enjoy it. It just missed the mark for me. Too much into a 200 page book, and nothing I could latch on too to make it more enjoyable. I will certainly be reading more of Rebecca Roanhorse’s books as I think she is master storyteller.

Summary (from NetGalley)
Celeste, a card sharp with a need for justice, takes on the role of advocatus diaboli, to defend her sister Mariel, accused of murdering a Virtue, a member of the ruling class of this mining town, in a new world of dark fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse.
The year is 1883 and the mining town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity from the high mountains of Colorado with the help of the pariahs of society known as the Fallen. The Fallen are the descendants of demonkind living amongst the Virtues, the winners in an ancient war, with the descendants of both sides choosing to live alongside Abaddon’s Mountain in this tale of the mythological West from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse.

My sincere thanks to Saga Press for approving an ARC and NetGalley for providing me with eBook of Tread of Angels.

Purchase Tread of Angels on Amazon

Find out more about Rebecca Roanhorse on her website:

Rebecca Roanhorse is a NY Times bestselling and Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Rebecca has published multiple award-winning short stories and five novels, including two in The Sixth World Series, Star Wars: Resistance RebornRace to the Sun for the Rick Riordan imprint, and her latest novel, the epic fantasy Black Sun. She has also written for Marvel Comics and for television, and had projects optioned by Amazon Studios, Netflix, and Paramount TV. 

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