Welcome to day five of the Hallow Blog Tour! I’m excited to bring you my book review of the second installment of the Celestial Creatures Series by author Olga Gibbs. I will not be revealing any spoilers in my review.
Many thanks go to Fraser’s Fun House and Olga Gibbs for putting together this Tour and inviting me to participate alongside a number of great bloggers. You can find the complete Blog Tour schedule, as well as more information on the author, a link to a free download of Heavenward (book one), and where to get a copy of Hallow below.
Being one of the most formidable archangels with the power to end the world doesn’t serve you well if you don’t know how to use it.
Thrown into a battle of courts and factions, tangled in a web of intrigues and palatial games, naïve Ariel is surrounded by powerful angels, chasing their own agendas.
There’s no one she can trust. Everyone stands to gain something from her death.
To avoid the bloody battle that Baza brought to her door at Uras, Ariel retreats back to Apkallu (Earth) to find her sister, but the Heavenly battles and intrigues she flees follow her, as Baza’s immense hold on Apkallu forces Ariel and Rafe to make uncomfortable choices.
Ariel’s fight for survival is far from over and it looks like it’s going to be a deadly one.
One of my favorite elements of book one of the Celestial Creatures series, Heavenward, was the unbelievable way Olga Gibbs was able to put me in each scene. Her descriptions are rich and exact, seemingly effortless and hard to forget. They can be wordy, but indulgently so; each word feels attentively handpicked and put in just the right place. In the case of Hallow, the indulgent descriptions pick up right from the start – I want to read that first chapter over and over again (and have). It effectively pulled me back into Olga Gibbs’ writing, and just as important, back into protagonist Ariel’s life.
We are back on Earth, and Ariel, with a semi-reluctant and injured Rafe, begins an active search for her sister, Jess. And so begins a trend of Ariel taking charge, stepping in to be the physically strongest of the pair, which manifests in different ways throughout the book. There is not a lot of dialogue in the first two chapters; it’s almost as if Olga Gibbs wanted her readers to really sit under the weight of what Ariel’s next steps would mean to her – whichever path she ended up choosing. Then, the story takes off with exciting speed as it becomes clear that the danger Ariel thought she had more time to escape from is closer than she could have imagined.
The balance between action, conversation, and detail is quite unique. The movement between each is not rushed, which can happen in a fast-paced narrative. The movement and the transitions in Hallow feel natural, bringing anticipation to even higher levels. Who can be trusted? What other unknowns are lying in wait? Did that really just happen?
Now, for as fluid and quickly paced this book is, Ariel’s character development is excruciatingly slow. I felt the same way in Heavenward, although I could still put myself in her shoes. She is constantly changing her mind and battling herself about her choices, her past, and is struggling to accept who she is. And as frustrating as that is at times, Olga Gibbs has managed to write Ariel’s feelings and psychological battles so realistically that it drives sympathy and empathy for the character. The story may be about global issues, but it’s also a reminder that sometimes the most effective and worst enemy is the self. And when both are thrown at you simultaneously, it can be much harder to see things clearly. It’s not uncommon for a fictional character to go through self-doubt, trust issues, trauma, and stress. But it’s not often that the related inner monologues sort of become entrenched with the plot; and even less often does it work like it does here.
The rest of the plot is quite solid. There are a few surprise elements that highlight the relationship between angels and humans, and my fascination with how the natural world is entwined with the “magic” of the angels is steadfast. Olga Gibbs has maintained her knack for world-building and elaborating, and is not afraid to take shocking turns in her story. If you need an edge-of-your-seat book and fantasy series, this is it.
Content Warning: While I do recommend this book, it would be remiss of me to not mention content warnings for violence (murder, blood and gore), suicidal ideation, child neglect and trauma.
About the Author:
Olga Gibbs lives in a leafy-green town, nestled amongst the green fields of West Sussex, England. She was writing from the age of fifteen, mainly short stories and novellas and was a guest columnist for a local newspaper. When she is not dreaming up new adventures for her imaginary friends, she does outreach work with teenagers.
She is currently writing a stand-alone psychological crime thriller book.
Hallow can be purchased from various retailers here, and if you haven’t yet read the first book in the Celestial Creatures series, a free download of Heavenward is available here until the end of the Tour (May 14th).