Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Source: Oracle of Philadelphia
by Elizabeth Corrigan

Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Series: Earthbound Angels (Book #1)
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Release Date: 20th March 2013
Tagged under: 2014 read, YA-fiction, mythology, fantasy, 4, review copy
Pages: 222
Buy at: Amazon

How much is one good soul worth?

Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advance can't solve. 
Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister's life, but his heart remains pure. 
Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it. 
In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul. 

Book Review [Spoiler-Free]

Reading from an author for the first time is always a refreshing experience. There is always that element of surprise because I'm never quite sure what I'm in for. There is little expectation yet at the same time, there is no guarantee of a good time either. It's really 50/50. 

I found that I strangely enjoyed this novel.

Carrie, as the title of the book suggests, is the Oracle - the one from whom all the legends in the various cultures and religions originated. She has been roaming the earth for the past eight thousand years or so, settling in different spots for a while before moving on again. In modern times, she finds herself running a diner in South Philadelphia, with only her two friends, the angel Gabriel and the demon Bedlam to keep her company. That is all about to change when Sebastian, a seemingly ordinary human, walks into her diner and changes her resolve about not interfering in demonic trades of souls.

To begin with, this is an easy read. I really didn't have any struggle in getting the hang of the world or the state of balance between the angels and demons. Carrie's narrative throughout the book is soothing and calm. I found the transitions between the past and the present quite smooth and nicely done. Information came when you needed and they never interrupted with the flow of the story. The characters were all very well developed.

The story itself is interesting to say the least. While there is never any high-powered action that is common in some of the other urban fantasy works of late, the whole premise of the story is entertaining and uncovering Carrie's past as well as her relationships with the individual angels and demons kept me engaged for the majority of the novel. That, along with the soothing narrative, is why I said this is an easy light read.

I guess the reason I found my own enjoyment of this novel puzzling is because as I was reading, while I can find facets of the novel that made the novel enjoyable, I could also spot inconsistencies or faults that could just as easily make it not so enjoyable for others.

The main one being: you really do have to read this book with an open mind.

Not being religious myself, I didn't really have any qualms with Corrigan's twists on ancient history and the way she portrayed the angels and demons. In fact, I quite liked most of the twists she threw in there, especially the big one at the end. However, I'm not quite sure if that can be said about every reader out there. While I don't think this will raise the hackles of Christians the way The Da Vinci Code does, I still think some people may find the world in the Oracle of Philadelphia wanting.

Secondly, Corrigan wrote some beautiful passages in the book, with this one being my favourite:
I had spent millennium after millennium standing on the sidelines, doing nothing with my powers for fear of making the world a worse place or fear of losing my own comfort. I needed to know that I believed in something, that I stood for anything other than being some kind of cosmic doormat. And maybe I needed to risk losing everything in order to discover what I had.
And some of her descriptions in the world about the settings are amazingly detailed. Yet that didn't carry across to everything. Some of the angels and demons didn't get any description beyond their hair and eye colour, making it hard for me to visualise them. But that didn't detract too much from the overall experience.

Overall: 4/5

I really enjoyed this book. The writing for the majority is beautiful and Corrigan's twist on things interesting. I would recommend it to readers who are looking for urban fantasy and who won't be too fussed by the lack of fast-paced drama or action.

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of the ebook was provided to me by the author and publisher in exchange of an honest review. The views expressed above are entirely my own and are in, no way, affected by the source of this book. 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really good - I am going to add it to my TBR!