Harsh Gods by Michelle Belanger is the sequel to Conspiracy of Angels. An Urban Fantasy told in first person by Anakim angel Zaquiel—mortal name Zachary Westland—as he tries to save an autistic girl from possession by something she calls the Whisper Man.
1—Angel Still Unaware
Zack’s lost memories continue to be a problem but Father Frank, the priest who called Zack in for the exorcism, knows Zack’s real name, as well as having a more intimate link to Zack and his past life. Beyond that, Zack is still tormented by the flashes of memory that surround the missing events—scents and sounds, vague impressions that flee as soon as he tries to grab them. It’s understandable Zack is depressed. But it’s fun watching Zack interact with strangers who know him.
Beyond that though, Zach is realizing he may not like the person he used to be. He has instincts and thoughts that sicken and terrify him, most of them violent. But some of them have been acquired through his still-active connection to the Eye of Nefer-Ka, the magical artifact that gutted his memory.
We also finally get to meet Lailah, the Lady of Shades, if briefly. And of course there’s more of Lil, the Lady of Beasts, and fun-loving bane of Zack’s existence whom he will not admit to missing. It’s so much fun watching Lil and Zack banter. Lil is half the reason the Shadowside novels are already a favorite.
We get to learn more about the Rephaim tribe of angels—of which our big bad is a member—as well as the Blood Wars. Immortal beings might not be able to kill each other but they can kill each other’s loved ones. We also meet a member of the Gibburim tribe, made of fire and smoke, a lovely little psychopath named Malphael, who’s hunting the same insane Rephaim Zack is but with much less care about causing further casualties along the way.
I enjoyed Harsh Gods just as much as Conspiracy of Angels. Tightly plotted, I finished the book in two days. I wish there could’ve been more of Remy, Zack’s brother, but understand why there couldn’t be and look forward to seeing more of him in future books. I also hope to see more of the character Sanjeet since she’s connected to Father Frank. Basically, I can’t wait for the next book in the Shadowside series.