Note: I received a free ARC and am voluntarily writing an honest review. Atheist’s Angel contains scenes of violence, child abuse, self-harm and torture.
I can honestly say I haven’t read another book like this! Atheist’s Angel delivers interesting takes on angels, djinn and Hades. It’s also darker than what I usually read, verging on grimdark without losing its hopeful message. It reminded me of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf.
At the beginning of Atheist’s Angel, human Gabriela rescues Tararus, a fallen angel in every sense of the word. Dropped into the affairs of angel-like celestials and gods, she’s forced into a bargain with Tararus and the god of punishment he serves. Thankfully, Tararus has already grown on her. She sees the good left in him that he can’t see in himself.
The story really picks up when Gabriela ends up in Tararus’s old realm. Though early parts of the book felt slower due to dense language in the exposition, Gabriela’s sarcastic descriptions lift it. They also offer a welcome dose of humor in this often heavy story. One example: when speaking to a benevolent god “…her mortal self stood out like a forty-a-day smoker among vegan gym bunnies.”
I came very close to rating Atheist’s Angel higher (rounding up to 5 stars rather than 4 1/2) and would have if it leaned into the romance and emotion a bit more by the end. After all that darkness and suffering, I wanted a longer payoff. At least I have future books to look forward to for that, and I do expect good things. What could be more fun than watching the celestial and mundane human worlds collide?