ARC Review: Covenant – Sabrina Benulis

covenant-sabrina-benuliseARC recived through Edelweiss in exchange for fair review

Summary:

The haunting gothic tale started in Archon continues-a mesmerizing work of the paranormal in which a young woman discovers that she is caught in a labyrinth of intrigue where angels, demons, and all the creatures between Heaven and Hell will stop at nothing to possess her.

A year ago, Angela Mathers, a talented artist with a tortured soul, enrolled at the Westwood Academy and encountered the angels who haunted her dreams. Then she discovered the dark truth … she is the Archon, a being of supreme power who will determine the fate of the universe. But with such power comes great danger, and for every force seeking to aid Angela there is another burning to stop her. After a scheming demon kidnaps the Book of Raziel, Angela must find her way through a nightmarish game and enter the Door to Hell to rescue her only friend before it is too late.

The perilous fate of both Heaven and Hell rests on her success.

Review:

When I reviewed Archon back in January, I said that the book left me cold. Although I did not empathize with Angela, I thought the mythology that Benulis presented was enough to keep going into Covenant.

On the plus side, I find Angela to be more personable now. On the negative side, it isn’t by much (Troy probably gets more character development than any of the characters in this book and that isn’t saying much.) While always problematic, it can be negated with a strong plot. But…that isn’t happening here either. I hesitate to even call the plot as secondary to the action as it can be summed up as “The Book of Raziel gets kidnapped; Angela goes to Hell to rescue it.” And that is it. Of course there are obstacles and there are fights. I said that Archon felt like it cinematic. It didn’t bother me there, because I thought there was balance. This book, though? It’s almost non-stop action. It’s the kind of thing that works well in a movie, but as a book? Eh. There are some revelations about the Book and about the Supernals, but they shouldn’t difficult for the reader to guess and so they don’t feel as important as they should.

Speaking of Hell, one of my main problems with this book is that Hell isn’t that scary nor is it unsettling. It is a dangerous place, and there is enough there to remind you that it isn’t Earth, but Benulis’ style doesn’t lead to flights of imagination that make you imagine that you are there and I do think that it’s a weakness. This book isn’t try be horror, but if you didn’t know they were in Hell, would the reader be able to tell based on what we’re given? I’m not sure.

Ultimately, like its predecessor, the book is a quick read, but there isn’t a lot to it. Even what I found to be the biggest strength, the mythology, is largely absent in this volume as we only get bits and pieces and not nearly as much. If, like me, you struggled to truly become vested in Archon, you may have trouble with this one. I find that a pity, because as I’ve said in the past, I do think the series has some great mythology to it. It’s just not nearly enough at this point to keep a person going.

Verdict: Fans of Archon will enjoy it, but the rest of us can probably Skip it. There is just too little plot and too little character development to recommend.

Side note: I’d strongly recommend re-reading Archon before picking this up. This is one of those sequels that dives in and doesn’t spend much time reacquainting the reader with its characters or reminding us of their relationships. I will never mark a book down for this, but I do want to mention it because someone new to the series will be completely lost and it even took me a few chapters to settle back in and I read Archon just about two months ago.

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