Samaria’s a complicated place for the next Archangel. In six months Gabriel will sing in the Gloria with his new bride, the angelica, and his rule will begin. Since the angelica opens the Gloria, she is chosen by the god Jovah himself, and it is vital to have Jovah’s choice by Gabriel’s side at the appointed time. If not, he risks Jovah’s wrath. The only potential hurdle he foresees is learning her name and location from the oracle and finding her. Maybe after that he’ll be able to tackle what he sees as abuses that the current archangel Raphael has incurred during his rule of Samaria. Gabriel’s overconfidence in both himself as an angel and others’ faith in Jovah’s will, however will quickly reveal his oversights in regard to Rachel, the preordained angelica.
Unbeknown to Gabriel, Rachel serves as a slave at a wealthy city merchant’s home in Semorrah. She does not have the dark skin and hair of an Edori, but was raised by the nomadic tribe much despised by the rest of Samaria for their unorthodox beliefs and eccentric culture. Rachel has lost her freedom, her people, and her love but continues to hope for her emancipation. Just when she thinks she’s earned if of her own accord, Rachel meets Gabriel. Determined not to lose her freedom a second time, Rachel will prick and fight until she risks offending Jovah himself.
This book had my curious attention from the first page and had me utterly captivated shortly thereafter. You just knew Gabriel in all his arrogance was asking for it. And Rachel is such a confident, solid character from the start. Her fierce, obstinate nature was never once annoying, although she’s plain illogical at times. After all she’s gone through, the strength she still possesses to claim her life and do with it what she will is incredibly endearing. There is just something special about these characters. It’s not hard likewise to become a fan of loyal, dependable, hard-working and practical Gabriel, who goes about his Archangel responsibilities and duties honorably and with an unmovable faith in Jovah. Gabriel and Rachel, as all perfect couples do, bring out the worse and best in each other, and their relationship is such a pleasure to read.
I could go on and on with my love for Gabriel and Rachel, and if that was all I could say, Archangel would still be a great book. But the world-building, plot, and general writing are all exceptional. Shinn’s clear prose is effortless to read and her pacing is near flawless. The chapters alternate perspective from Gabriel to Rachel, and I could never wait to switch characters and see what happened when they were apart and his/her viewpoint when they were together. The music and religion so central to the story were unique and beautiful complements. The overall world-building left me with the feeling that Samaria exists somewhere and has a rich people, history and culture. With that and the sweet, perfect conclusion for Rachel and Gabriel, I have an irresistible nagging to return to Samaria very soon.