The end of the world started in Glasgow, with a kiss. Two people – two creatures – fated to be eternal enemies downed their blazing spears and loved. To do so, they broke rules hardwired into the DNA of the universe. The universe noticed. The universe broke. Now Heaven and Hell are hunting them. Nobody on Earth can help them. Worst of all, the fabric of reality is unravelling around them, the Apocalypse has been brought forward a millennium, and it might all be their fault. On cold streets, the last tattered remnants of humanity must draw faith in a world that has no more use for them. As the masses pray and crawl on bloody knees, the few must restore the fearful symmetry between good and evil – for the sake of all. Blood will flow. Fire will fall. Days will end.
To those who read this blog regularly, it’s no surprise that I’m obsessed with angels and fallen angels–when my expectations as a reader match the author’s vision, of course. The description for Thy Fearful Symmetry sounded cool, and as I read more and more, the plot became more and more interesting.
We start things off in Glasgow, a nice twist on the usual locale of stories like this, with Calum, one of our central characters in this multi-character epic. He has just woken up from a nightmare. He’s consumed with guilt and seems convinced that God can hear him. He’s terrified, as he has been a good and honest priest for eight years but feels he has created a horrendous path of sin from which there’s no redemption. We get more hints at his sins when he reads about an incident at a nightclub where people seem to have died from a drug-induced state and there’s a description in the reports of a man shrouded in shadows who police are working to apprehend.
We then switch points of view and get into the head of Clive, a teacher who wants to kill one of his students, James. Not just in a hyperbolic sense, either. Like, really kill and hurt James to the point that Clive is picturing it in his head. The news story about the nightclub also startles him because he thinks he recognizes the description of the perpetrator, but he has other problems–he’s married to a woman, Heather, but can’t bring himself to explain to her that he’s attracted to another male teacher who, until three weeks ago, was also at school with him. He insists he’s not gay, but his body betrays him in his reactions to said teacher, Ambrose. It doesn’t help that Ambrose was also his next door neighbour in the building they lived in, and that Clive witnessed parts of Ambrose’s destruction. He thinks he might have seen a winged being carrying Ambrose off. When we cut to the present and Clive snaps out of his reverie, we learn it wasn’t such a fantasy after all. His hands are handcuffed and bleeding, and he has no idea why.
This is where Malachi’s story starts. He’s a wronged man with a vengeance streak who’s fighting against a demon, Orloch. It was at this point that the book brought back shades of the popular British supernatural drama Hex to mind (Michael Fassbender as a fallen angel, Azazeal. Nuff said ). Malachi fights off Orloch, who tries to get into his brain to possess him but finds it warded, which I thought was a nice touch. Malachi’s quest is to find and destroy the demon who messed with his wife and put her in a catatonic state, and one nurse in particular, Melissa, sympathizes with his plight, and goes so far to follow him on his way to Glasgow to find the perpetrator. He knows this creature only as Pandora, but he’s in for a bit of a surprise as the mystery unfolds, and he’ll learn that things aren’t quite so black and white.
When we switch back to Calum, he’s in a church that seems to spontaneously combust, after which he has a confrontation with a creature who may be an angel or a demon (he can’t tell) but the message is loud and clear, and gives the reader more clues to unravelling the threads that make up the backstory.
We learn that Ambrose is a fallen angel. Michael the Archangel himself considered Pandora to be evil so he tortured her, but Ambrose stuck up for her and he paid the price. He’s on the run and she’s not in her normal state. Meawhile, Calum the priest “absolved” him of his sins. As it turns out, the creature who visited Calum in the church was Metatron, little Yahweh, an angel with so much power that he has been mistaken for God before. It’s hear that we also uncover a lot of new information about the limitations of fallen angels, angels, and Lucifer in particular, as well as Ambrose, who sheds some light on the nightclub fiasco and what happened there.
Things start to unfold on a much grander scale and there are even some zombies that enter the fray, which although they livened up the action, I could have done without, just because there were already demons, angels, and fallen angels involved, and I thought the zombies were a bit extra, but they did tie in to the plot well near the end.
By the time things come to a head, there’s been plenty of mayhem, destruction, and general chaos on the level of an apocalypse, but as the story unfolds and reaches its climax, the reader will have a hell of a time seeing how all of the characters involved end up, and although the ending was a bit bleak for my taste, the resolution made sense, and ultimately Thy Fearful Symmetry proved to be an entertaining read. If you’re looking for your next “fallen angel” read, or somewhere else to get your angel fix with Supernatural off the air until the new year, definitely consider picking up Thy Fearful Symmetry.