And we come to the second fiction review this author has decided to post, readers:
They said that God didn’t exist. They said that the time for religion was over. If mankind was to progress, the human race had to be purged of superstitions. Like everyone else, Chelsea Shields believed the Lumen Corporation, even when they hunted the faithful to extinction. What did she care? She had no sympathy for fools and fanatics.
But the grisly death of her brother was about to change all that. Freed from bondage and forced on the run, her only hope for salvation lies with three mysterious priests known as the Archangels. Armed with prayer, sacred rituals and a truckload of guns, these fugitives from the Underground Church vow to save her from the armies of Hell.
But can she really trust these men to protect her? Surrounded by treachery and intrigue, and pursued by seven demons, she finds herself drawn into a world of despair. To survive the night, she has to confront her deepest fears. And do all she can to recover her faith before it’s too late.
Written by Thomas Tan, League of Angels* is a very Catholic adventure novel. The author isn’t as subtle about his faith’s influence on his art as is Dean Koontz*, sharing more similarities with Declan Finn* by putting it front and center. This book does not pull any punches, readers.
Some may find that problematic, and that is a shame because it is a good story. Although large parts of the dialogue and some of the descriptions could have been taken directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this adds to the narrative rather than detracts from it. The writer does not sink to using the story as an allegory for the present times, either – though there are plenty of references made to modern issues inside and outside of the Church during the course of the novel.
This may make the book feel a bit preachy, even to Catholics. Unlike Finn’s St. Tommy* and numerous works by Dean Koontz, League of Angels does not appear to be intended for a massive audience. Mr. Tan’s objective seems to be to tell a good story Catholics will enjoy and in which they will find spiritual comfort. In this aim he succeeds admirably, especially with regard to the titular angels depicted on the cover of the book.
Each of the Archangels is named after the three Seraphim or Archangels identified in the Bible. Father Michael, a former soldier who worked for the Satanic Lumen Corporation, is the leader of the group. After a raid on an underground Catholic Mass ended in death, he switched sides and became a priest. Though he remains sober throughout, he carries a flask from which he drinks regularly in order to dull the pain of the memories that still haunt him.
Father Raphael was a doctor before he became a priest. The least likely member of the trio to lose his cool or get into an argument, Fr. Raphael is easy to overlook even in a firefight. He tends to focus on maintaining both the physical and emotional balance among the group, remaining calm in victory and defeat. At heart, he is and always will be a healer.
The youngest member of the group is Father Gabriel. Descended from a Japanese samurai who converted to the Faith just after the martyrdom of St. Paul Miki, he was raised by relatives after his own parents died in one of the Lumen Corp’s purges. Well-versed in history, he primarily does battle with a sword, while his compatriots use firearms.
Chelsea Shields herself is a pop star lifted up and promoted by the Lumen Corporation. When her brother, a rock star employed by the same company, succumbs to a disease and falls into fevered dreams she summons a doctor. Instead she gets Father Raphael, who knows full well that no medicine on Earth will heal her brother. His hedonistic lifestyle and his sins have taken their physical toll, and the only thing left to do is make an honest attempt to save his soul.
Unfortunately, though Father Raphael accomplishes this, protecting Chelsea’s brother reveals him to the Lumen Corp. They and their allies from Hell immediately attempt to kill him and Chelsea. Despite a last-minute rescue by Father Michael, there are too few islands of safety to which they can bring her. So they call on Father Gabriel and the three set out to take the woman to Rome, the only place where the Church has not been forced underground. Not yet, anyway.
League of Angels is a rollicking adventure that takes readers to the depths of despair before mounting the stairs to hope. The beasts from Hell are terrifying, the characterization is quite good, and there are enough shoot-outs and explosions to please even the most pyrotechnic-obsessed reader. I can honestly say that the worst part of the book is the Epilogue, which sets up a sequel that has yet to be released. Darn it, Tan, what happens next?!
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see Christianity presented positively in fiction, as well as horror fans and those who prefer the action/adventure genre. Any Catholics worried that the book mocks or otherwise degrades the Faith need not be concerned. The exact opposite is true. I highly recommend this book to my readers and the casual visitor here at A Song of Joy.
God bless you, readers. Enjoy the story!
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If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth, while her poetry appeared in Organic Ink, Vol. 2. She has also had stories published in Planetary Anthologies Luna and Uranus. Her latest piece, “Death’s Shadow,” is available now in Cirsova’s Summer Issue. Order them today!