It took me a minute to wrap my head around Rebecca Roanhorse’s fantasy western novella, Tread of Angels. Some part of my brain is still immersed in her Between Earth and Sky series so I was a bit resistant to the Western town setting. But, as always, Roanhorse delivers a gripping story.
Celeste Semyaza and her sister, Mariel, are half-Fallen (their mother was descended from the Fallen Angels) in the mining town of Goetia. Celest can pass as an Elect, and deals cards at Eden. Mariel cannot pass, and is the singer at Eden. Mariel is found covered in blood next to the body of a murdered man, a Virtue. She is arrested, not by secular law enforcement, but by the Virtues. Celeste is certain her sister is innocent and pulls together all her resources to save her.
TMr. Ibrahim invites Celeste to take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli, where she will speak from the heart to convince the celestial court of her sister’s innocence. What’s understood is that because Mariel is Fallen, she is presumed guilty.
In just over 200 pages, Roanhorse pulls together a world every bit as rich and complex as the world in Black Sun. We just see less of it. Celeste is an interesting character, but I can’t talk about the things that make her so compelling. She is a wrecking ball in her certainty that she is right. By the end, everyone has a little more clarity. The events in Tread of Angels feel like a tipping point in the world. I don’t know if this is the start of something or a stand alone story, but it is brilliant.
CW: Murder, attempted murder, brutality, betrayal, death of a baby bird, imprisonment.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Saga Press and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.