Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Descent and Ascension Series by SM Reine

Once in a while, I’ll recommend some books that I’ve enjoyed. No spoilers here, but I will set up the premise.

Also, I am ALWAYS looking for new books to read. Please feel free to recommend books in the comments. Amazon links are helpful but not necessary!

Caveat: I read widely, across many genres, so I’ve specified what genre each book is. If you don’t read in that genre, that’s cool. Check out the next book.

Urban Fantasy:

 I recently pointed y’all toward Angelfall by Susan Ee, and if you like that book, I have an enormous treat for you.

I am now a huge, massive, rabid fangirl of SM Reine. The Descent series is simply one of the best series that I have read, ever. The sequel series, Ascension, is also incredible. For both, the plotting is amazing, with some of the most perfect pivots I have ever read. The characters are flawed and striving and deeply felt. The core relationship between Elise and James is, to say the least, complicated, and it is developed deeply enough to more than sustain the 12 books SO FAR in this series. At least three more are planned. The prose is—and I hate the word for its snobby Byattesque connotations but it applies—numinous. The world-building is impeccable and thorough in ways that Tolkien and George RR Martin could only aspire to. If you think Susan Ee’s angels are malevolent, wait until you meet Metareon. I will never look at blue eyes the same way again.

One of the most masterful feats of writing that I have ever witnessed is that the entire Descent series is foreshadowed and contained in the very first scene. Main character James Faulkner has one of the most astonishing character arcs that I have ever seen in fiction. There may be no parallel. Main character Elise Kavanaugh may be the most kick-ass heroine who has ever lived, and yet changes so profoundly during the series that she will break your heart and make you wish you were her, and yet she will still kick your ass. She grows up, from a damaged, traumatized teen to a woman who can convincingly become a Hell Lord and (it is suggested) will invade Heaven itself.

I reread books rarely, like Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Lolita by Nabokov, and I have read probably tens of thousands of books in my adult life. I have read this whole series at least twice now, and parts of it several times beyond that. These are some of the best books that I have ever read, and the first three are free on your reader. You should read these.

If there are any caveats, they are that the occasional sex scenes are explicit and heart-wrenching and that there are three more books still to be published. The next one, Lost in Prophecy, is due in March, 2014. I just want to ask SM Reine to wear her seat belt. Oh, yeah, and she’s writing three other series at the same time and throwing down a full-length novel every month. Jaw-dropping.

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