Review of The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher

The Six-Gun Tarot by RS BelcherTitle: The Six-Gun Tarot
Author: R.S. Belcher
22 January 2013
Pubisher: Tor Books
fantasy, horror, western

eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 5/10

Please note: this review contains mild spoilers. I’ve avoided specific plot details, but I have discussed the nature of the ending.

Golgotha is a quaint little town of horrors. Surviving out on the edge of the Nevada desert in the 1800s, it’s seen a surprising amount of supernatural activity, but it’s still home and haven to its odd assortment of residents. The novel opens on Jim Negrey, a 15-year-old boy on the run from a murder charge. Jim and his faithful horse are about to die out in the desert when they’re saved by Mutt and Clay and taken to the safety of Golgotha. Clay is a medical man with a disturbing amount of interest in dead bodies. Mutt is the town’s deputy sheriff, a Native American Indian with a coyote trickster for a father. The town’s sheriff, Jon Highfather, is rumoured to be either undead or immortal. The mayor, Harry, is a Mormon Elder guarding the magical artefacts of his faith, but he’s struggling to reconcile his religion with his homosexuality. Maude Stapleton, the wife of a wealthy banker, is secretly a warrior assassin for a cult of Lilith.

It seems that these people have all been drawn to Golgotha for a reason. The town sprang up at the foot of the now-abandoned silver mine in Argent Mountain, but what the residents don’t know is that all their paranormal troubles are caused by the colossal monster slumbering in chains beneath the mountain. It’s the Greate Olde Wurm (yeah, I laughed) a monster older than God or death, and if it ever got loose it would destroy the universe.

That threat, of course, is at the heart of the plot – the mine is reopened and the Wurm’s chains are weakened. It begins to wake, infecting the residents of Golgotha with murderous darkness. It’s up to the residents to fight back with the talents and tools at their disposal, not just to save themselves and their town, but to save all of Creation.

But be patient, reader: the novel takes its sweet time building up to the apocalyptic battle of its main plot. There is much to learn first, including the mythological backstory of the Wurm’s imprisonment, and the personal lives of Golgotha’s residents. I’ll address the latter first. Maude is deeply ashamed to have married and turned into a demur, submissive wife; it completely contradicts the teachings of the feminist warrior faith. She forms an unlikely bond with Mutt, who is shunned by the town because of his race, and by his own people because of his coyote heritage. Jim is carrying around his dead father’s glass eye, which happens to be an ancient Chinese artefact with strange powers. He hopes to be able to learn more about it from the Chinese immigrants who live in a self-contained area that goes by the derogatory name of Johnny Town (and is rife with racial clichés), but is initially thwarted because otherwise the story would be a lot shorter. Harry, the Mayor, is having an affair with the man who plays piano at the Johnny Town brothel, while his wife Holly drinks herself into oblivion because her husband let her believe she made him gay. Auggie Schultz, a German storekeeper, is torn between his growing feelings for his good friend Gillian Proctor and his devotion to his (un)dead wife.

The narrative jumps frequently between these characters’ stories and more. It’s a hell of a lot to keep track of, but luckily it’s very easy to do so. Since this is a story of pending apocalypse, it also makes sense to have a lot of characters so that you have some idea of the lives at stake.

But unfortunately having so many POVs is one of the novel’s biggest problems. Many of the characters are interesting, but you can’t spend much time with them before the narrative focuses on someone else. The result is that some characters, like Maude, Jim and pretty much all the Chinese, feel badly neglected. Initially, each chapter or section is written from the perspective of one character, but after a while the POV tends to jump haphazardly between characters or to an omniscient narrator.

The romance between Auggie and Gillian takes up a sizeable portion of the novel but is totally unnecessary, as they have no role to play in fighting against the Wurm. I suspect that they’re there to provide a heartwarming aspect to the plot and to address a religious issue – finding a new partner after the death of a spouse. Other religious issues arise as well. Why, Harry wonders, has God allowed a sodomite to guard his treasures and guide his people? There are many different religions, but which one is true? And of course there’s the age-old conundrum: why does a supposedly loving and omnipotent God allows evil to exist in the world?  Religion, or rather, faith, is one of the main themes of the novel, although not in an entirely mainstream way.

Belcher has rewritten Christian mythology to explain the Wurm’s presence on Earth: when God created light, he found monsters living in the darkness. Heaven went to war with the monsters the end of this war, the Wurm was not killed but bound with holy chains and imprisoned on Earth, which was still under construction at the time.

The novel considers the issue of faith of both humans and angels in relation to this version of God who is questionable at best. We know that God is almost certainly a liar. He has not always been in existence as he led humanity and the angels to believe – the Wurm is older than him. He is not omniscient, because he only discovered the Wurm when he created light. It also seems that he is unable to kill it, which would mean that he isn’t omnipotent either. Of course, God doesn’t actually appear on the page; the information about his nature comes from the angels, particularly Lucifer and an angel named Biqa. Overall, God is portrayed as a cruel and arrogant dictator who is not as powerful as he purports to be. Biqa’s theory is that God banished the darkness because he feared it, then went genocidal on the Voidlings because they did not fit into his plan. He suggests that god created the angels and plans “to create an entire universe of doppelgangers to worship Him” because he is afraid of being alone.

So what do the characters, angel and human, think of God in light of the novel’s events? The answer lands, inexplicably, on the side of faith. The general conclusion seems to be that the whole thing was a test and some even wonder, with a ridiculously jovial attitude, what the good Lord will come up with next. However, no one has the slightest shred of evidence to support such a favourable interpretation. Why put all of Creation at stake to test a handful of people living in a small American town at the ass-end of nowhere?

There’s absolutely nothing to dispel Biqa’s earlier impression of God as cowardly and manipulative, and when Lucifer offers his equally unflattering opinions it makes perfect sense within the confines of the narrative. But then again, this isn’t about reason, it’s about reassurance. The residents of Golgotha have “learned long ago to quickly grab hold of any explanation in the daylight that makes it easier to live in the dark”, which in my opinion, explains both the optimism at the end of the novel and the entire phenomenon of religion itself. It’s terrifying to imagine that God cannot kill the Wurm; a more comforting explanation is that He was saving him as a kind of exam paper. Which means that there is a plan, and it seems to be running smoothly, so relax and enjoy the happy ending.

I was just happy to have reached the ending. The novel started out well, I cared for the characters, and I loved the unexplained hints at the weird things that have happened in Golgotha, but Belcher doesn’t really have a handle on this story. For the entire second half I felt like the novel was tossing me all over the place, leaping across POVs, going from a slow pace to dire action, and eventually bringing all its threads together in a way that was chaotic rather than conclusive.

We are told that all religions are true, because it’s belief that gives them their power, rather than deities. In fact, we’re told that gods need people and cannot exist without them. The novel ignores the immense contradictions here. Its own backstory shows that God existed before humanity so although he wants them, he certainly doesn’t need them. And of course there are fundamental contradictions between religions, but there’s less of a need to address this problem because the novel only makes a half-hearted attempt to include non-Christian beliefs. There is a Chinese creation myth told amidst endless Oriental clichés, but after hearing Biqa’s story earlier in the novel, this sounds like a distortion of the more Christian truth. Another creation myth is narrated by a coyote, but all in terms of “the white man’s god”. There is a cult of Lilith that Maude’s grandmother picked up from “the Bantu witch-women” of Africa (there’s that good old blanket term again), but even though this rages against the misogyny of the bible, it still subscribes to the basic mythology. I think the novel could have been a lot stronger if it made a decent attempt to incorporate different belief systems, but it remains unwaveringly Christian at its core.

But hey, it left with enough to discuss for a fairly long review. It was average at best, but most books like this leave me with little to say, so I appreciate those that give me something to think about. Less fussy readers probably won’t be too bothered with the consistency issues I’ve discussed here, and may find this fantasy-horror-western to be a lot of fun. I haven’t really said anything about all the action and horror in the plot, but it suffices to say that there’s plenty of it, although it can get a tad ridiculous. If you’re ok with that sort of thing, then go for it.

Review of Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Series: Unearthly #1
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published: 4 January 2011; my edition published 1 May 2011
Publisher: Egmont UK
Genre: paranormal romance, YA, fantasy
Source: review copy from Penguin South Africa
Rating: 5/10

I didn’t expect to get a copy of this from Penguin Books SA, and I wasn’t even going to read it, since paranormal romance is not my thing and I hate these lame pretty-girl YA covers. However, I’ve been away on a holiday of sorts, and found that I was too distracted to focus on more demanding reads, so I told myself to stop being a snob about this and just give Unearthly a shot. At the very least, I would learn a little more about the current trend of YA romances featuring mythical beings.

In Unearthly, the beings are angels and angel-bloods (human/angel hybrids). Sixteen-year old Clara Gardener is a Quartarius, a ‘quarter-angel’. Her mom Maggie is a Dimidius – a half-angel. When the novel opens, Clara is shown her ‘purpose’ – a vision of her reason for existing, her destiny. The vision shows a raging forest fire and a mysterious, beautiful boy she has to save. Using clues from her vision, Clara and her mother figure out where it’s supposed to take place and, along with Clara’s younger brother Jeffrey, they pack up their things and move to Jackson Hole, a small town in the forests of Wyoming.

At Jackson Hole High School, Clara learns that the boy she’s supposed to save is Christian. Christian Prescott. Christian is so hot that Clara’s friend Wendy refers to him as a god. Maggie pushes her to get closer to Christian in order to fulfil her destiny, but he’s dating one of the hottest, most popular girls in the school and Clara is in the lower half of the social hierarchy. She might be gorgeous and athletic thanks to her angel blood, but she starts school with her hair dyed orange (I’ll explain later), leading to some unflattering nicknames. She struggles to find her place at a school where everyone has known each other since nursery school and it’s a long time before she has a real conversation with Christian. She must also overcome the physical challenge of learning to fly and becoming strong enough to carry Christian away from the forest fire. However, everything becomes more complicated when Christian leaves town for the summer, and Clara falls for another boy, whose affection and rugged good looks distract her from her purpose.

I’ve read a few other paranormal romances just to give the genre a shot – Twilight and the first two Sookie Stackhouse books. I found them to be dreadful, boring novels, so I was pleased to find that this wasn’t too bad. The romance dominates the story, which I don’t normally like, but I actually found some of it quite sweet, at least when it wasn’t overly clichéd or being taken way too seriously. I imagine that fans of YA paranormal romance will be enraptured, particularly when the second romance begins to blossom later in the novel. Personally, I have to admit that the book gave me what I wanted, which was a quick, simple read. I finished it in about a day (even at 433 pages) and thought it was a decent way of passing the time.

But, me being me, I couldn’t help but notice the flaws.

Clara, firstly, is too perfect and privileged. She’s smarter, faster, stronger and more beautiful than humans. She heals quickly, she can speak any language, and command animals. Her mom is inexplicably wealthy, so it’s no problem to pack up and move across the country, and their house in Jackson is stunning. Maggie later buys Clara a prom dress just because it’s beautiful (at that point, Clara has no intention of going to the prom) and pays for skiing lessons and an expensive all-season pass for the slopes so that Clara and Christian can share a hobby and spend more time together. Clara and Jeffrey go to a swanky school, and although some of the students are “poor” they only seem that way because everyone else is stinking rich.

Everything is so easy for Clara, that learning to fly is only a challenge because it requires some actual effort and practice. When Clara tries other things, like skiing and horse-riding, she does it perfectly on her first try. As far as her personal life in concerned, she only has a minor difficulties common to pretty much every teenager on earth – hating her hair, suffering a few embarrassments, feeling confusion about her romantic interests, fighting with her mom. Even her purpose is something that she’s mostly just waiting for, and it seems way easier than the usual problem of trying to decide what to do with your life.

The novel gives too little attention to the concept of purpose and the rest of the angel mythology, so a lot of it is very vague, contrived or just silly. The mythology is almost strictly biblical, but the novel is silent on many relevant theological questions, like the nature of God or the role of religion. On the positive side this means the novel avoids being religious and it’s easy to see the angels as just another mythology (although you can take the religious view if you’re so inclined). On the downside it’s very flat and simplistic.

But of course, this is a fluffy teen romance, so I guess I shouldn’t expect much in terms of moral-complexity or world-building, and I think a lot of information is being held back for the rest of the trilogy. I often felt it would be easy to exchange mythologies, and make Clara a vampire or fairy, or switch genres and make her a cyborg or give her genetic engineering. She just needs to be a superhuman with secrets to keep and the romance could still play out in much the same way. However, there are some important plot points that are actually based on the shaky angle mythology, leaving us with some gaping plot holes.

Clara’s hair is one of these. It’s naturally golden (*sigh*), and can shine with a bright, “unearthly” light if she’s feeling emotional. To prevent this from happening, her mother dyes her hair, but I don’t understand why this solves the problem. Also, Clara’s hair turns out orange instead of auburn, which is quite embarrassing and is presumably meant to be the reason why this hot, smart, athletic girl doesn’t become one of the popular rich kids. Instead she’s notably ‘different’ and socially cut off from Christian, which better suits the plot. However, there’s really no reason why Clara can’t dye her hair a different colour. And why choose a light colour when a dark one would be safer? The whole orange-hair problem seems completely avoidable.

Then there’s her goal of getting close to Christian. As far as her purpose is concerned, I don’t think there’s any need for this. From what I can tell, she doesn’t have to do anything except fly him away from the forest fire. She figures out when and where it will happen, and she learns what jacket she’ll be wearing at the time. This means that it can’t take her by surprise, so it’s not like she has to follow Christian around. She just has to be in the right location, during fire season, on a day when she wears her purple jacket. She could ignore Christian most of the time, so really the idea that she needs to be his close friend or his girlfriend is a poor excuse for romance and a love triangle. Why not give her a better reason for wanting to get close to him, like learning more about the guy who is part of her purpose in life? What makes him special? The book doesn’t offer any explanation because Clara doesn’t try to figure it out. Apparently blind faith is enough for her. No surprise there, I guess.

It was also no surprise to find that the romance takes the old damsel-in-distress, my-life-revolves-around-a-man route. When Clara first sees Christian, she faints and he carries her to the nurse. I was suddenly very worried that I’d be reading Twilight all over again. It’s the first of several instances of Clara literally falling into a boy’s arms, and one of many romance and YA clichés. She also activates some of her angelic powers by thinking about a boy, and of course her whole reason for existing is to save the life of a hot guy. Christian is essentially the most important thing in her life because God said so. It’s some of that good old divinely inspired misogyny.

In terms of plot though, everything revolves around Clara. The other characters exist only to serve her story, and as a result they’re terribly flat. Two of them actually accuse Clara of assuming that everything is about her, but as a reader you’ll find nothing to contradict that assumption. About halfway through the novel most of the characters are casually sent out of town so that Clara’s second romance can develop unhindered.

Reading over this review, I can’t believe I sort of enjoyed this book. It obviously helped a lot that I wanted an easy read. I think the novel is also ‘saved’ by the fact that it’s mediocre. It’s not as stupid and misogynistic as something like Twilight; it’s benign enough for me to get some enjoyment from the story while brushing aside the flaws. It could be a bit slow at times, because its focus is on the romance rather than the paranormal stuff, but I think fans of the genre will be very happy with this. The ending also adds a few intriguing elements to the story, setting a nice stage for the sequel.

Buy a copy of Unearthly at The Book Depository

Review of The Antithesis: Book 2β by Terra Whiteman

Title: The Antithesis:  Book 2β (Two Beta)
Author: Terra Whiteman
Published: 19 October 2011
Publisher:  1889 Labs
Genre:  genre mash-up of mythology and science fiction
Source: own copy (ebook)
My Rating: 7/10

Terra Whiteman left me dangling from another cliffhanger at the end of The Antithesis: Book 2α.  I was trapped. I had to read the next instalment right away so I clicked my was over to Smashwords and bought the ebook (it’s only $2.99; money very well spent)

Note: this review contains spoilers for books 1 and 2a in the series.

Book 2β picks up a few days after the end of Book 2α. Qaira is in hospital recovering from his fall from the Archaen ship after his devastating battle with Lucifer. He managed to chop off the Archaen’s hand but also got his entire team slaughtered and would most likely have been killed too if Leid hadn’t come to save him.  The battle destroyed half of Sanctum and killed over a hundred thousand Nehel, but achieved absolutely nothing. This is enough to make even Qaira realise what an arrogant, selfish, stupid bastard he’s been and he makes a public apology. When two Vel’Haru come to take Leid back to their home world to be punished for violating the terms of her contract, Qaira caves completely. Devastated at the prospect of losing her forever, he swears to end the conflict and let the Archaens make the Atrium their home if only the Vel’Haru will let Leid stay with him.

The two Vel’Haru agree, and a decade of peace and social reform follows. Sanctum is not just rebuilt but improved upon, with the help of the Archaen’s advanced technology. A slow process of integration begins, and even Lucifer and Qaira manage to work together. Leid and Qaira get married and they live very happily.

Everything is just dandy, but, based on book one, you know that this story can only end in an epic disaster. It keeps the novel a bit tense even during the good times. You’re often reminded that heaven and hell will be at war several centuries from now, thanks to several appearances (in this book and Book 2α) of angels who will later become demons. Book 2β also sees the first cases of the deadly respiratory disease that afflicts the angels. According to book 1, Yahweh will eventually create a cure that (unknown to him) will affect the angels at the genetic level, turning them into demons. I really liked the idea that ‘god’ created the demons and that it was the angels’ prejudice towards this new race that started the war. From books 2α and 2β however, you can understand the root of that prejudice – the demons look just the Nehel (red-rimmed pupils, black wings), who oppressed the angels for decades.

But more important, for now, is the very volatile couple at the centre of the story. You know that Leid is keeping some extremely dangerous secrets, and you know that Qaira is eventually going to do something horrific. If you started to warm to him, know that very soon you’ll almost certainly want to scream curses while beating the crap out of him. He’s struck by an appalling tragedy for which he blames Lucifer and then becomes completely obsessed with revenge. The novel doesn’t definitively state whether or not Lucifer is innocent, but either way, Qaira’s revenge is so destructively over the top that there’s no hope of redemption for him. His actions are also the catalyst for what we know must happen – the extinction of the Nehelian race, with the exception of Qaira who is sent to the Nexus and has his memory wiped, to become Alezair Czynri.

Once the novel concludes the this tale, it leaps back to the time of book one and picks up where that narrative left off, having equipped you with some of the backstory that puts the later story into better context. Alezair Czynri wakes up in the Nexus, having relived the story you just read. He reclaims his identity as Qaira Eltruan, now more pissed off and hateful than ever.  Lucifer, no longer willing to let his people suffer miserable lives in the cold, dark, subterranean levels of the Atrium, makes a decision to change the course of the war.

The novel builds up to fresh conflicts and violent clashes but once again, Whiteman ends it without resolutions. But this time I couldn’t go out and get the next book because, unfortunately, it hasn’t been published yet. I’m told that The Antithesis: Book 3α will be released sometime in February, but an exact date has not been decided upon. I for one cannot wait and will be sure to get my hands on a copy as soon as frickin’ possible.

Buy a copy of The Antithesis: Book 2β

Review of The Antithesis: Book 2α by Terra Whiteman

Title: The Antithesis:  Book 2α (Two Alpha)
Author: Terra Whiteman
Published: 14 August 2011
Publisher:  1889 Labs
Genre:  genre mash-up of mythology and science fiction
Source: ebook received from author
My Rating: 7/10

Note: this review contains mild spoilers for Book 1 in the series.

In September I reviewed The Antithesis, an indie novel that put a sci fi spin on the war between heaven and hell. In this version there are angels and demons, but they’re not fantasy creatures or forces of good and evil; they’re just two species in a universe with multiple dimensions (the Multiverse). The war is not fought in physical battles; instead a more scientific approach is taken, with religion designed as part of an experiment whose results will decide the outcome of the war.

I had a lot of issues with the Antithesis, but it had a compelling story nevertheless. It also seethed with untold backstories. For example, Alezair is obsessed with Leid, plagued by the feeling that he’s met her before. Yahweh and Lucifer seem to be more like friends who are creating the illusion of being enemies. The whole war began for reasons very different from the biblical ones and is a matter of politics, not good and evil. The Antithesis itself provided little information on these and other backstories, ending instead on a cliffhanger that promised to reveal some of the history. I was curious, so I dove into Book 2α, which turned out to be a very rewarding read.

Book 2α is set 800-900 years before the events of book 1. The great war has not yet begun. In fact demons don’t exist yet and the Atrium isn’t the domain of heaven and hell but the home of beings known as the Nehel. Qaira Eltruan is Commander of the military forces in Sanctum, the Atrium’s great city. For all intents and purposes, Qaira is also the ruler, having taken on the job when his aging father could no longer perform his duties.

Qaira’s greatest concern is the decades-long conflict between his people and the Archaens – the angels. Fifty years ago their ship arrived at the Atrium after the destruction of the planet Felor. Over a million Archaens were stranded, and their commander, Lucifer Raith, begged for sanctuary in the Atrium until they could move on. Qaira’s father granted them space in the upper layers. Fifty thousand Archaen refugees set up camp but then refused to budge.

Unfortunately the Atrium is a small planet and the Archaen presence puts pressure on their limited resources. Qaira, never a gracious or tolerant person, wants the aliens dead or gone, but political considerations and the Archaen’s superior technology prevents him from taking drastic action. The two species continue to exist in an uneasy stalemate until the Nehelian Council hires a Scholar, Leid Koseling, to advise Qaira in the conflict.

Leid and Qaira can’t stand each other, but her contract requires her to stay at his side for the next decade, or until the conflict ends. They gradually warm to each other, and Leid even gives Qaira and his army a massive advantage against the Archaens.  However, combined with Qaira’s temper and his hatred for the angels, Lucifer in particular, the conflict can only end in bloodshed and destruction.

Book 2α was a better read than book 1, largely because the plot is much more focussed. Book 1 dropped the reader into the middle of a conflict that’d been raging for centuries, in a context that’s always been the domain of fantasy but which Whiteman claims for sci fi. The result is fun and interesting, but also confusing, as the reader has break away from some of the usual tropes while absorbing a lot of information. Book 2α however, is more recognisable as sf, and has a more streamlined plot, sticking to the political conflict between the Qaira and the Archaens and the blossoming romance between Qaira and Leid.

The political conflict is a tough one to call. The Archaens might have lost their home, but they also rocked up uninvited at a small planet and expected to move in. The Nehel develop a racist/xenophobic attitude toward the angels, referring to them by the derogatory term “whites” (because of the colour of their hair and wings; the Nehel are darker-haired with black wings) and making it illegal for them to move freely outside of the refugee camp. As a result the angels are forced to live in terrible conditions, to the extent that some Nehel feel sorry for them and are in favour of integrating the two societies. However, it’s not like the Nehel don’t have their own ghettos and social ills, making integration a contentious issue.

Qaira, being the person that he is, openly hates the angels and is determined to get rid of them. The first thing he does in the novel is shoot one in the head. Shortly after he makes plans for attacking the refugee camp. Qaira generally claims that he does things like this for the good of his society, but it’s not hard to see that he’s also driven by extreme prejudice and blinding hatred for Lucifer, the Archaen Commander.

It’s stated several times, in this book and the previous one, that Qaira Eltruan is a monster, and in fact he’s often the one to make that claim. While it can sound a little dramatic when this comes from Qaira himself, it’s not hard to see why he was branded as such. He’s temperamental, stubborn, violent, sexist, arrogant, vulgar and bigoted. Oh, and he’s got a drug addiction What makes this worse is that he’s got control of an entire world and his actions affect the lives of millions of people. Or, more frequently, the deaths of those of people, when his bad temper, prejudice and gargantuan ego lead him to make the most appalling political and military decisions. It’s a good thing that I found Qaira to be a compelling character, because he’s certainly not a likeable one.

Nevertheless, the novel gives you a chance to empathise with Qaira, if only for short periods before he goes back to doing something violent. You see him with his family, and although he is often rude or dismissive toward them, he clearly cares for them very much. His romance with Leid reveals a (slightly) softer side to him. Perhaps the most endearing thing about Qaira is his reluctant friendship with Yahweh Telei. In Book 1, Yahweh is ruler of the angels, and the god-figure of the religions used in the war. In Book 2α he’s still a young boy, albeit a genius who is a qualified physician, geneticist and engineer, among other things. He is captured by the Nehel and held prisoner, but Qaira can’t help respecting and even caring for him, despite the fact that he persists in referring to Yahweh as a white.

Sadly, this story is doomed to end in tragedy, based on the knowledge carried over from book 1. This lends the book a sense of gravity and sadness; you know from the start that Qaira will eventually fail and millions will die, but even though he’s such a bastard it still sucks that there won’t be a happy ending.

To learn the full extent of the tragedy however, you’ll have to read Book 2β. This novel is just the first half of the story, and it ends on a cliffhanger. Whiteman is clearly doing something right because after I finished Book 2α, I immediately bought a copy of Book 2β and started reading. Thank god for ebooks – you never have to wait for them.

Obviously, I had a really good time reading The Antithesis: Book 2α. There’s loads of action, plenty of tension, and a hot-headed narrator with an extremely dangerous temper. You get to see ‘god’ when he was just a little boy genius, and ‘the devil’ when he was ruler of the angels. The simpler structure allows you to get a much better grasp on the world Whiteman has create, preparing you for the books ahead. Admittedly, it still feels a bit unrefined, a bit… wild. As with book 1, I sometimes feel I should be more critical of the novel for some reason, but then I stop and say, who cares? It’s really fun to read.


Buy The Antithesis
Smashwords $2.99