Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis (Tor, Dec. 2013)-When an Seraphim dies, the heavens scream with pain and the monkeys below (that would be us humans) usually perceive its death as just so much space junk. So, when Gabriel is murdered, the fallen angel Bayliss turns his face up to the sky to witness his death, and he also must find someone to take his place, but the mark that he picks out isn’t the one that ends up dead. Molly’s not sure what hit her when her body disintegrated on those train tracks, but the world she’s now in isn’t the one she left, and Bayliss is the only rudder she has in her new reality. Too bad for her, because they don’t exactly get along like gangbusters. Not only has an angel been murdered, but the Jericho Trumpet is missing, and Heaven is in distress. Who murdered Gabriel, and where is the Trumpet? Looks like Bayliss and Molly are the ones that have to find out, but at what cost?
Most of the book is told from Bayliss’s viewpoint, and those familiar with the works of Dashiell Hammett will recognize a good bulk of Bayliss’s affectations. Angels each have their own Magesteriums in the Pleroma (get out your physics and theology texts folks), and Bayliss’s Magesterium comes complete with an old time café where he can get coffee and keep an eye on the dames. As fun as Bayliss’s story was, I found myself wanting to get back to Molly more often than not. She’s a fish out of water when it comes to her new powers and surroundings, and she’s also still pining for her ex-girlfriend, who left her heartbroken. It doesn’t help that her brother is an addict, and he also witnessed her death. Much of Molly’s journey is coming to terms with her own death and her still strong ties to humanity and the ones she left behind. Yes, there’s a fascinating mystery (a murdered angel!!), and when it becomes clear that a group of angels want to break free from heaven, things really got wild, but it’s Molly’s story that, for me, made this book so damn good.
I’m not going to lie. Ian Tregillis has a doctorate in physics and boy does it show in this book. I was never so happy to have the dictionary feature on my Kindle (I used it a lot, and am not ashamed to admit it.) Don’t let that scare you away, though. I learned the terms pretty quickly and Tregillis is so good, his language just flows. I loved his reach-out-and-touch-it descriptions of memory and what I started to think of as the science of heaven. His prose made some of the sad passages (and there are a few), that much more poignant. Just be ready, though: there are a few surprises in this one that may make you exclaim out loud (I did, earning funny looks from my family.) Something more than night is a complex, exquisite, wonderfully written book, and it’s taken me forever to post this review because I didn’t feel like I was doing it justice-but this will have to do. If you like fantasy that’s a bit out of the box and a lot awesome (with enough noir seasoning to please a Hammett fan,to boot), Something More Than Night will make you a very happy reader, indeed.