A Flight of Angels: A graphic novel by Rebecca Guay

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fantasy and science fiction book reviewsA Flight of AngelsA Flight of Angels   by Rebecca Guay (illustrator)

Stories by Holly Black, Louise Hawes, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney and Todd Mitchell

An angel has fallen. Led by their insatiable curiosity, the hosts of fae have followed the descent of the white-winged creature and now gather around his still-breathing body to decide what to do with him. They decide to hold a trial, and present evidence in the form of stories about the deeds of angels to decide whether or not to let him live.

I am fairly new to reading graphic novels, so I do not know how original the conceit is of having multiple authors work on the same novel, but here it works splendidly. Each author is responsible for a different angel story, told by a different fae, which accounts for differences in tone. Holly Black is excellent as usual in creating the frame for the story, and each additional story adds to the mystique that surrounds these winged creatures, pulling from multiple traditions to round out the picture of creatures that can be perfection or demonic, or both in turns, or at the same time.

While the stories are well done, especially “Original Sin” by Louise Hawes, where this book excels is in the lush, detailed illustrations of Rebecca Guay. The cover art has echoes of Klimt’s The Kiss, and the interior work changes styles to match the stories, from overwhelming sensuality in the Garden of Eden, to the harsher lines of the Russian mountains, to the sketched-in mysteriousness of the fae council. Expertly designed marginalia separate out the stories from the tellers, and artwork that bleeds through the gutter gives a sense of time and history to the panels.

While not everyone enjoys graphic novels, if you are a fan of faery tales and angels, A Flight of Angels is a book that will delight you. The art and the story work expertly together to tell a story of heart-wrenching beauty that also causes the reader to question what it is that they know about angels, and leaves the reader with a sense of deeper truths that will be reflected on time and again.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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  1. This sounds like a good one!

  2. I love, love, love Rebecca Guay’s work, having seen it in Louise Hawes’s Black Pearls (which I enthusiastically recommend for both the stories and illustrations).

  3. Brad Hawley /

    Thank you for the solid review–I hadn’t heard of this book until just now. Certainly sounds worth picking up!

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