It’s six weeks past the apocalypse, where armies of angels have wrought destruction upon the major cities of the earth. Penryn has been hiding in a condo in the suburbs of San Francisco with her paranoid schizophrenic mother and wheelchair bound little sister. When their food runs out, she knows they are going to have to try and escape to the hills where hopefully they can find more supplies. But on their way, they get stopped by a band of dueling angels, one of whom gets his wings cut off. And when the victorious angels steal her little sister Paige and fly off with her, Penryn knows that the only way she will get her sister back is by making a deal with the devil. Or at least a wounded angel.
Angelfall by Susan Ee starts out very well. We get a good sense of Penryn as a character, why she has the skillset she has, and the burdens that she carries, both literally and metaphorically as the one fully functional member of her family. You also get a hint of the complexities playing out in the angel community as they deal with the logistics of being an invading army where their Messenger, the archangel Gabriel, has been killed. Penryn and Raffe’s flight to the mountains is also compelling, as is their encounter with the human resistance army gathering in the hills.
Where the first half of the story is quite engaging, the second half misfires in several places. There are obvious factions within the angel community, and I think a more in-depth explanation of what is going on is necessary, rather than the clunky exposition we got. There is obviously a lot of history between the main characters, and that needs additional fleshing out, both to make Raffe more realistic and to understand the factions that are warring amongst each other. I literally spent an hour after I finished the book researching the archangels trying to figure out how the character configurations I saw would make sense, and I still couldn’t figure out how one of them has anything to do with this story. But, this is a series, PENRYN & THE END OF DAYS, and I have hope that these storylines will be fleshed out in the sequels.
Additionally, the budding romance between Raffe and Penryn felt rushed. On the run for your life seems like a good time to develop lust, but true love takes a little bit longer, and takes more knowledge of each other than these two characters have currently. The villain seems a little bit over-the-top evil, and there’s some really awkward exposition and monologuing that occurs. I think this book would have benefited from being about fifty pages longer, because it would have given Ee time to fully flesh out the interactions in a more convincing way. That said, I’ll probably pick up the sequel, because this is a fast, entertaining read with an interesting premise, and the last few pages were almost cinematically beautiful and left me wanting to know what was going to happen next.