Friday, 26 August 2016

Book Review: A Kiss before the Apocalypse by Thomas E Sniegoski

Boston P.I. Remy Chandler has many talents. He can will himself invisible, he can speak and understand any foreign language (including the language of animals), and if he listens carefully, he can hear thoughts. Unusual, to say the least, for an ordinary man.

But Remy is no ordinary man; he's an angel. Generations ago, he chose to renounce heaven and live on Earth. He's found a place among us ordinary humans; friendship, a job he's good at, and love.

Now he is being drawn into a case with strong ties to his angelic past. The Angel of Death has gone missing, and Remy's former colleagues have come to him for help. But what at first seems to be about tracing a missing person turns out to involve much more; a conspiracy that has as its goal the destruction of the human race.

Only Remy Chandler, formerly known as the angel Remiel, can stop it.

My Review: 
I admit that I bought this book before I noticed the less than enthusiastic reviews of it here on Goodreads. I'm a picky reader at the best of times and I don't like angel related stories so I was concerned that I wasn't going to like it. I surprised myself by liking it and buying the next books in the series.

Remy is an angel who renounced Heaven to live amongst humans and work as a PI, marrying a human woman called Madeline. He has two friends-his cop friend Mulvehill who knows what Remy is, and his beloved dog Marlowe, who he can communicate with. Remy is suffering as he watches Madeline slowly die in a nursing home where staff think he is a younger relative, so the last thing he needs is to hear that an apocalypse could be coming. Someone is seeking the four scrolls, which if opened, will summon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Despite his personal trauma, Remy is dragged into the battle to stop the apocalypse and has to locate and secure the scrolls before they can be used. However, there are those who do want to see the apocalypse and they don't like the fact that Remy and his friends are interfering with their plans. They are determined to stop him at all costs and it leaves Remy wondering who to turn to for help.

Israfil, the Angel of Death has decided to try living in the real world for a while, abandoning his job of taking the souls of the dead, who end up trapped on Earth and in pain. Remy cannot bear the thought of Madeline suffering this fate along with so many people and agrees to get involved. Israfil's story turns out to be quite human and I liked viewing the Angel of Death in a more sympathetic manner. I liked the story which centered around the Bible verses about the Four Horsemen. I thought the concept was interesting and a bit different from the normal urban fantasy.

It was interesting to see characters who were a bit different. It was refreshing to start the series with the cop already knowing who and what Remy is and being happy to be friends with him, treating him like a normal guy and hanging out with him. It is better than having the conflicts and refusal to believe what Remy is for half the book. So I applaud the author for skipping by all of that and having Mulvehill already accepting it all. Remy himself is a nice guy and I had complete empathy for the personal pain he was going through, as I have recently been in that situation myself. I found it harder to read this book second time round for review purposes because the story is now more personal to me. I thought the author handled this storyline well, with real emotion and understanding.

As I said, I don't like angel stories but this was different from the other angel ones I've read. In fact I think it is the first book with an angel MC that I've ever liked! Remy was an angel and has a few angel powers but he lives as a human and behaves as a human, caring more about the human population than most of his kind do. He is basically getting involved in a war between battling angels who want a different future and are willing to sacrifice humans to do it, which Remy finds unacceptable. We even have a group of them that both Heaven and Lucifer want nothing to do with, which was an interesting addition, along with the group of angel outcasts. The book certainly explores angel mythology so to speak but I actually found that and the religious themes quite fascinating as they were woven nicely with the urban fantasy story.

It is quite an emotional story as Remy struggles to deal with the coming loss of his beloved wife, enduring painful visits to the nursing home. Marlowe doesn't quite understand why Madeline can't be at home with them and doesn't get the concept of how ill she is. The scenes with Remy and Marlowe talking about missing Madeline are quite heartbreaking. Marlowe is totally adorable and sweet and I love him to bits! I wish I had a dog that I could share conversations with like that! I think dog lovers will fall in love with Marlowe from page one. I'm certainly going to enjoy seeing what is in store for Marlowe through the series. I admit that man talking to his dog was one of the reasons that I was attracted to reading the book!

This is not an all action book. The plot centres around locating the scrolls and evading the bad guys. Yes there are a couple of action scenes but a lot of the plot centres around Remy and his conflicting emotions, and the choices he makes. I feel that this helped to develop him as a character and made him easier to connect with, as did his relationships with Madeline, Marlowe and Mulvehill. I am certainly interested in where the story is going in the next book.

A few reviewers have indicated that they were not impressed by the author's writing but I honestly didn't have a problem with it. I found the plot cohesive and entertaining and I can't ask for much more than that. Have I read better urban fantasy? Yes. But I still liked this one and hope to get through the rest of the series soon.
star rating photo: 35 star rating 3-5-stars.jpg


  1. I'm going to grab this for my Kindle this weekend. I need some Marlowe in my life. This is the same author who wrote The Demonists which has been one of my most favorite reads this year. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the rest of the series.

    1. I think they will be quicker reads based on book size so I actually hope to get to them sooner rather than later. I need more time to catch up on all these series but I've been too busy watching series of Deadliest Catch over the last week!

  2. I enjoy this series too. It's just... I don't know, fun!

    1. I plan on starting the second book in the series today and hopefully get at least one series up to date!