Heavenward (Celestial Creatures Series #1)
Heavenward (Book One in the Celestial Creatures Series) was published on February 20th, 2018. While I was provided a copy of the e-book, all thoughts are my own. If you would like to learn more about Olga Gibbs, click here. And while I prefer my book reviews to be spoiler-free, I have mentioned some minor character details in this review.
With the power to end the world, would you protect humanity when it broke you or would you take revenge?
Meet Ariel: a quiet, unnoticeable girl with an incredible gift…
Ariel never had an easy or pleasant life, but the arrival of three gorgeous strangers meant her measured life is turned upside down, as she discovers that angels exist.
Now against her will, she’s drawn into an ancient celestial conflict where her powers will decide the fate of humanity.
Deceived, threatened, hunted and now on the run, who can she trust?
For a fantastical story to work, the created world needs to be somewhat clear, or at least the vital parts/rules of the world need to be clear, in order to A) get the reader invested and B) leave little room for confusion that distracts from the story. In Heavenward, author Olga Gibbs achieves both in an exceptional way; so much so, in fact, that the setting seems to play a character all of its own.
From the very first page, the characters – even the protagonist and narrator Ariel – are shrouded in mystery. The impression is that Ariel is on a path of recovery from trauma, although the trauma is not specified until later on. In the opening chapter, Ariel has the displeasure of meeting three new students – Sam, Rafe, and Mia – at her high school, who all seem very interested in her. Unluckily for Ariel, her recent angel-filled dreams and the appearance of those three students are the kick-off to something that changes her life forever.
Olga Gibbs has a talent for world-building. From the school yard to the heavenly architecture and natural surroundings, her settings and imagery are so vivid and cater to all five senses; it would be hard to tire from her rich descriptions. Which is why it comes as a bit of a disappointment that the characters are not as dimensional as the world that surrounds them. There are certainly moments of alluring reflection and charisma, but often the dialogue and assertions missed their mark because they were not realistically drawn out. In many ways, the settings themselves are what breathe life into this story, that show the seriousness of choices, actions, and consequences. This is not to say the characters are not important, because they are, but in order for them to carry equal weight of the world Olga Gibbs created, we need to see them a little more deeply, and perhaps for a longer period of time than they are given.
Heavenward is fraught with danger, mistrust, dishonesty, and the struggle of deciding to do what is right for the self or to do what is right for all. For someone who has suffered abuse and neglect and learned to rely on just herself, Ariel’s rocky journey of leaning on others and surviving evil forces has only just begun. I look forward to seeing how author Olga Gibbs continues this ride.