Big city life with a side of the supernatural.
Have you ever been curious about urban fantasy? Exactly what is it? In general, urban fantasy novels are set in contemporary times, and contain supernatural elements. One Friday out of each month, I’ll highlight an urban fantasy book for the interested.
Trading in claws and mountains for wings and skyscrapers, we make a pit stop in Pennsylvania where something evil festers in the City of Brotherly Love. Surrender the Dark, one of L.A. Banks’ last novels before her tragic passing, exposes a secret war between angels and demons.
Lost in a haze of drugs, alcohol, and hallucinations, Celeste Jackson has always assumed she’s insane. Seeing demons? Feeling emotions of others? Definitely not normal. So when a strange man claims to be her angelic guardian, Azrael the Angel of Death, Celeste needs convincing. She learns she is the key to winning the battle between Heaven and Hell, but can she overcome her personal demons before darkness claims her soul?
A suicidal drug addict and alcoholic, Celeste isn’t your typical heroine. I appreciate how Banks explores the dark spiral of addiction, mental illness, and domestic abuse. She makes it accessible without negating its horror. It made me uncomfortable, watching Celeste struggle to escape a cycle of poverty and violence–and I loved that. It’s refreshing that Banks isn’t afraid to emphasize the “urban” in urban fantasy.
Surrender the Dark straddles the cusp of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and offers plenty for fans of both genres. It has adventure, romance, and humor (picture an angel trying to understand American slang!) but it also raises poignant theological and philosophical questions. Though this series remains incomplete, it is well worth the read for those interested in thoughtful critiques of human society.