Series: SEVEN SIGNS
Plot Type: Apocalyptic Horror with Romance
Ratings: V5; S4; H1
Publisher and Titles: Berkley Sensation
This post was revised and updated on 4/23/13 to include the second book in the series, Redemption. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of book 1:
BOOK 2: Redemption
Japh is one of the Tainted because Michael tossed him out of Heaven for reasons that Japh has never understood. Japh was Michael's greatest soldier, but he was humble about his successes in battle, never trying to outshine Michael. In Heaven, Japh was the "Golden Boy," always doing his duty and succeeding in everything he attempted (including becoming a talented classical pianist, if you can believe that). He has always been noted for his complete honesty and noble character, even during his centuries with the Tainted. Throughout the past 1,400 years, all Japh has ever wanted is redemption and a return to Heaven. Japh believes that Michael looked into his soul and saw how he repressed his darkest emotions, but he learns in this book that Michael had entirely different reasons for causing Japh's fall from grace.
Rose was an up-and-coming Broadway dancer when she went out for a booze-filled night on the town and was seduced by Fluvium, who turned her into a demon vampire. In a moment of uncontrollable blood lust on her first night as a vampire, Rose killed a little girl she was caring for, and she has been carrying the grief and pain of that act ever since. At that time, she begged God for help, but He never answered her pleas, and she now hates everything connected with Heaven—especially angels, even Tainted ones.
The main plot follows the erratic (and erotic) romantic and action-filled adventures of Japh and Rose as they come to a shaky and unreliable truce and work together (mostly) to take down some of the bad guys, including Fluvium. The book is filled with pages and pages of Japh and Rose's anguished, angst-filled dialogues and interior monologues, bemoaning their fate and lamenting that their relationship can never develop into anything positive.
The book includes several sub-plots that add to our knowledge of the characters, particularly the villainous archangel, Michael, and Jadzia's demon boyfriend, Shaz. It turns out that Michael is even more evil than he seemed to be in the previous book, as he continues to plot against his brother, Gabriel, and betrays both the Tainted and the angels of the Heavenly Host.
The over-arching series story arc involves the demon King, Azaroth (second in command to Satan), and his dastardly plans for world domination. Those plans will lead to the ultimate Apocalypse as soon as all of the seven vials are emptied. We get a bit of a shocker at the end of the book about Azaroth's earthly identity (but please don't read ahead and spoil the story for yourself).
This book is just as dark, bloody, and violent as the first one was, and few the characters (good and bad) demonstrate any admirable character traits. The bad guys are totally one dimensional—malignant to the core. The good guys are all arrogant, womanizing, hard-drinking boors, but I'm sure that each one will turn out to have a heart of gold when it comes time to star in his own book (with the possible exception of Michael). Click HERE to read the first chapter of Redemption.
Each book follows a dual plot line: (1) the circumstances and consequences of the demonic possession of one or more of the vials, and (2) the love story of one of the seven Fallen angels—the Tainted Ones, who are the heroes of these books. The Tainted have been tasked with keeping the seven vials safe from the seven demon princes and their minions, who want the vials for their own nefarious purposes. Each vial is in the safekeeping of one of the Guardian Angels, who are called Vial Guardians. According to the Book of Revelation, if the vials are spilled by Heavenly forces, God's righteous wrath will cleanse the world, but if the demons spill the vials, that wrath will be darkly twisted and will bring on a demonic apocalypse that will destroy the world.