cover image Archon: 
The Books of Raziel, Vol. 1

Archon: The Books of Raziel, Vol. 1

Sabrina Benulis. Harper Voyager, $22.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-206940-5

Benulis’s urban fantasy debut displays stunning visual imagery and atmosphere that fail to disguise a desperately incoherent story line. Suicidal “blood head” (redhead) Angela Mathers, whose paintings depict the angels haunting her dreams, is sent to an isolated Vatican academy in the decaying, gothic city of Luz. There she is revealed as the possible Archon, container of the spirit of the dead archangel Raziel, potential destroyer of humanity, and pawn in the schemes of powerful, morally ambiguous angels. As Angela incurs the enmity of mean girl Stephanie Walsh, a witch and would-be Archon, she is drawn to Stephanie’s lover, the mysterious novice Kim, who is hiding his relationship with a murderous jinn who stalks the students. Benulis never engages emotionally with her characters, despite a dizzying series of viewpoint shifts, and the confusing, slow-to-develop plot fails to fulfill its apocalyptic promise. (Jan.)