Opening Sins of the Angel to any chapter is likely to provide the reader with a chapter and verse biblical quote that aptly draws itself into this well-conceived tale of transformation, temptation and spiritual torment. The passages breath life and purpose into the accompanying tale and help to sustain atmosphere where needed.
The basic premise of the novel (not giving anything away… read it yourself!) involves the transformation of a zealous preacher from one cause, to another, more sinister mission. There is a flow from wrathful to loving God and from righteous punishment to self sacrifice that is tied nicely through a small cast and several sub-plots. It carries a horror premise well – good against evil, light over darkness, terrified unnamed victims and helpless-hero moments.
It’s not, however, all sweetness and light. While Mr. Harris has deftly applied the Bible to his, and our, benefit, his characters still need some work. The principle character does not draw empathy for his human failings or his constant self-analysis and the principle villain, unseen and inferred through most of the novel, is brushed aside a little too conveniently. There are inconsistencies in the presentation of some support characters and there is a schizoid vein to the tale that requires occasional re-reading. The sub-plots are too loose and lack support to add to the strength of the novel.
That said, I did not put this book down too often. I enjoyed the tension built throughout and while some dialogue was at first stilted and cringe-worthy, this style worked for the characters. There is a suspension of disbelief in the laws of science and nature, and a good level of second guessing (and yes, I got it wrong) for the villain. I would have liked a little more direct action and to have the support characters less chameleon-esque, but that would have made this novel something it isn’t.
Consider it to be an intelligent work of fiction above everything else and approach with an open mind and a good read awaits. Recommended.
Review by Andrew Mckenna
First published online (28/08/10).