Title: Dominion of the Star
Author: Angelica Clyman
Publisher: Indie Angel Books
Publication date: July 20, 2015
Summary: Eighteen years ago, the Earth was wrecked with destruction during an Eclipse. Out of the chaos rose Sebastian Za’in, the man who took power and imposed his own Angelic order on the survivors. After all, he’s rumored to be a Nephilim, the offspring of an Angel and mortal. The next Eclipse is set to happen in a few months and he has plans to change the world forever. To do so, he needs Kayla Steelryn, a young woman ignorant of her parentage and powers. But as she’s brought out of the quiet potter’s village she was raised in, she learns the world is far from idyllic and that she has an important role to play during the next Eclipse. Though whether it’s to save the world or destroy it is up to her.
This book is intense. The characters are intense. Their struggles are deep and more than just physical. This is not a light, easy read. No, this novel is heavy with words, heavy with feelings, and heavy with conflict. It left my brain feeling a little warped.
I enjoy a good angels and demons story, but this is not an angels and demons story. It’s an angel story, twisted. There were no demons, just Angels and Nephilim, and it was often impossible to tell which characters were working to destroy the Earth and which were working to protect it. I loved not knowing who to trust. Just as Kayla was simply thrown into this post-apocalyptic world and basically told to figure out who to trust, so is the reader.
The characters were fascinating and twisted. A few were clearly one thing or another, but others swayed from side to side so much that it was impossible to tell if they should be trusted. Za’in was particularly, and most interestingly, twisted. Until the very end, it’s impossible to tell if he wanted to save the world or simply seize more power. He’s so well done that it’s just as impossible to tell where the loyalties of several of the characters around him lay. Jeremy was also remarkably well done. At first, he was a little difficult to understand. He was torn between his loyalties and his heart, especially with so many conflicting messages coursing through him. I didn’t always understand why his loyalty to Za’in was so strong, but it made his character more compelling, and I couldn’t decide if he should be saved or killed. Compared to these men, Kayla could have been stellar, but her characterization kind of bothered me. She felt more like a pawn despite the seriously strong internal growth she experienced over the course of the novel. I often questioned how many of her choices were actually hers and whether or not they were choices she really had. The rest of the main cast were a little one note, experiencing little change and lacking any real depth, but they added color, and a few lighthearted moments this novel desperately needed.
I liked the post-apocalyptic setting. The desolation and near desertion of the world paired well with the story. Everything seemed to be either destroyed or on the verge of destruction. There were almost no people outside of the main cast. It was stark and ominous, much like the story. Overall, it’s a simple story, but the author breathed life into it until it could expand no more. I couldn’t help but get a sense of desperation and hopelessness that matched the landscape perfectly.
I wouldn’t call this a Christian novel, but it does have a thick layer of religion. It does involve Angels, Nephilim, and the question of what happened to God, but it created a strong backdrop for the story and the characters. This was an interesting twist on religion without pushing Christianity. The only thing I had a problem with was the Tarot cards as I felt they added another layer that was a bit more confusing. Compared to the rest of the story, the Tarot part was a small part, but it seemed to play a huge role in Kayla’s internal world. I just wish it had had more of a presence throughout the novel to make it feel a little more relevant to the story. I think it was supposed to help Kayla’s internal and personal growth, but it made me feel like she was even more of a pawn, and I lost my connection to her as she no longer felt like an individual with any actual choices.
The most interesting part of this novel, though, was how it was written. This is a slow novel. It takes its time and isn’t shy about it. Every scene was expanded until it reached its limits, and each of the main characters had their own stories within each event. The author told a full story from multiple perspectives, and then dove deep into Jeremy, Kayla, and Asher to reveal their internal landscapes as everything was happening. It made the story develop at a very slow pace and helped add depth to the characters, but it was often a little overwhelming.
As much as I enjoyed the characters, the story, and the setting, I also felt a little lost and confused. Almost nothing was said about the world before the first Eclipse. Other than vague mentions of catastrophe, I don’t understand how Za’in was able to rise to power, and I don’t know what happened to the people. The lack of history made it a little hard to figure out the importance of the current events. It made the world feel a little untethered, as though it only existed for the sake of the current story. I also didn’t understand the power the Eclipse had. Sure, bad things happened and more changes were planned for the next one, but I struggled to understand why it was such a big deal, and why Angelic changes could only happen when the Sun was blotted out. I suspect there might have been religious reasons involved, but they must have gone over my head.
Another thing that bothered me was the romance. There’s a strange relationship between Kayla’s parents, Za’in, and Asher, but none of it was really focused on. The reader was only given snippets of the past. It felt important, but I felt like a lot of information was missing. I couldn’t always tell who was in love with whom and why Kayla’s parents chose each other. Similarly, the romance between Kayla and Jeremy bothered me. It was very quick and burned extremely hot over the course of the entire novel. It felt like love at first sight that only grew stronger. Put that way, it makes sense, but the intensity bothered me. It helped make Kayla and Jeremy a little more complex and helped tie them and the story together better, but I also felt like the story depended on their romance a little too much.
Overall, this was an interesting novel full of intensity and complexity. The lines were blurred and it was often difficult to tell what side to root for. The ambiguity makes the reader feel much like Kayla. I wish there had been more depth to the world and that Kayla felt less like a pawn, but this was an interesting, thought-provoking read. It’s not something that can or should be read in one day. I found it to be quite intense and bursting with internal landscapes that were almost to rich to bear.
How many cups of tea will you need?
4 cups would be excellent.
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Thank you so much to the author, Angelica Clyman, for a free e-copy. All opinions expressed are my own.