“Love is a dangerous angel.” ― Francesca Lia Block
Author: DC Juris
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages/Word Count: 10000
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: Ekenezer has no idea why Nathan Bradley is so important, or why God has sent him to guard a hapless klutz. But one look at Nathan and Ekenezer soon finds that he has more than protective feelings for his ward. What’s an angel to do, though, when having the one person he’s ever wanted means giving up his wings for eternity?
Review: I’m really into angels right now. After reading TJ Klune’s breathtaking novel, Into This River I Drown, I clutch at everything angelic like it’s the Turin Shroud and its worth is more than I could ever fathom. Unfortunately, this novella left a lot to be desired.
Ekenezer, referred to so often by his full name that it left me tongue-tied, was a loveable character with a seemingly troubled past that was never divulged. Strike one. He is sent from God to guide the clumsy office worker Nathan, whose importance to heaven was paramount but we were never told why, hiding a huge chunk of story in the “God works in mysterious ways” vault and never coming to light. Strike Two. While the romance was charming and the story held a huge amount of potential, what I actually read was fairly contrived and a little superficial. I was once told by a great writer that when approaching a story, the most important thing is to set up the camera so the angle shows you everything you need to tell the story from an interesting perspective. This angle, however, seemed to be head on, not the most promising of story-telling choices out there by far. Sigh. Strike three.
The love was doomed, angels had been cast out for fraternising with their charges, it was frowned upon and Ekenezer knew it, but chose love over his faith. This was a powerful message, one that the author never quite fully expressed with emotion. There was a lot of action (perhaps too much that it left everything feeling unexplored) and very little emotion. We were left to feel Ekenezer’s plight only through action and dialogue. I wanted to be inside his head, wanted to feel the terror and the ambiguity he was feeling choosing love over his creator. I was told he stepped back, tried to pull away, knew it was wrong. But I never felt myself in his shoes, never felt the conflict and was sorely disappointed.
Then God showed up. That was the first time I’ve ever read this happening in the genre. It seemed at once both incredibly brave to introduce the Big Guy like he was the CEO of a company instead of a divine being, or incredibly distasteful. He was tall, with a beard and a robe, armed with clichés and pushing his angel to follow his heart and protect the boy who was important to the Man Upstairs. This felt a bit on the nose. The introduction of God is something we don’t see very often in gay literature, and there is a reason for that. It skirts too close to blasphemy. I’m not religious at all, agnostic at best, but even I found that speaking for God, and quite un-eloquently, was a bit of an overstep and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
With a really promising idea, and the skill of a really great writer, this story let me down when I expected so much more. I will look out for this author again because I recognize talent when I see it, but this story, for me, didn’t quite hit the mark. Three generous stars, one for trying, one for obvious talent, and one because I really can’t stand being this harsh in a review.