Title: Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis
Author: Brandon M Davis
Published by: Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc
Publication date: 20th Sept 2020
In this fantasy sci-fi story, a group of men and women known as the Guardians have been charged with protecting humanity as heaven and hell clash on earth. Being assigned with this dangerous and stressful task, we see how these warriors deal with the horrid nature of their job all while balancing their life with their teammates and managing the trauma that shapes them. Shockingly, this time it’s not just demons that threaten mankind but angels lead by the arch Michael. How can the Guardians protect humanity from the denizens of Hell and the sword of God himself?
I was given a copy of Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis by author Brandon M Davis, organised by the Twitter page Booktasters. I am grateful for the organisation and for the chance to read this book in return for an honest review.
Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis is the debut novel by author Brandon M Davis, and the first in a series that follows Guardian Daniel and his team in their attempts to keep the human race safe while war on Earth wages between demons and angels. It is a unique take on the Good vs Evil/Demons vs Angels trope that has become ever popular, with excellent characterisations, trilling, intense fight-scenes and intriguing world-building.
The plot of Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis throws the reader right into the deep-end of the story with very-little in terms of preamble. The first chapter shows the Angel of Death, Gabriel, being murdered which sets in motion a chain of events that spans the length of the novel – leaving key characters reeling in grief and a hole in the relationship between mortals and supernatural beings. It offers a pretty steep learning curve in which perseverance certainly pays off – rewarding the reader with a straight-forward, but incredibly enjoyable story arc that offers mystery alongside the expected genres of Science-Fiction and Fantasy. The plot-line sweeps the reader from one fast-paced action-filled scene to the next; giving only brief reprieves in the action to recover – might like the characters involved.
The characters themselves, while initially barely described beyond the basics of physical description, still somehow leave a vivid impression on the mind. The depth that is lacking of their physical attributes is made up for in bucket-loads of personality allowing the reader to easily fill in any blanks; letting their own imaginations run riot with them. A brave choice by the author, which has left them well rewarded. The cast of Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis is very diverse and each of the character brings their own distinctive style. They’re all very individual characters that stand apart from one another; in both their spoken mannerisms and their actions.
There is enough detail in the characters backstories that leaves them relatable – in a fashion – to the reader; their struggles feel real and believable, especially considering the fantastical nature of the story. The gathering of humans that Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis focuses on are the ‘best of the best’ many of them have been training their whole lives in preparation for the war going on around them; to protect humanity from demonic forces. This is most apparent in key-character Daniel and his incredible fighting abilities. Throughout the story we’re told more about him when compared to any of his team-mates as such some of the characters surrounding him aren’t as well developed as he is and I’d like to have seen how some of them became involved in the Guardians in the first place too.
I admit, I did take a particular shine to the unconventional Father. A priest who leads the Guardians and fulfils his holy role in an interesting manner! The intricacies of his character are well considered and, at times, unexpected. He added a new level to the team and I once applaud the author for being able to bring their characters too life in different ways to one another. I found the drama elements to the novel added another hook the the characters too and the romantic, love-triangles added a somewhat lighter tone to the rest of the novel.
While I have a lot of praise for this book and it’s highly imaginative story, I do feel I should mention the combat scenes. There’s nothing wrong with them, per-say, they’re intense and exciting, but boy are they long – which is where the aforementioned perseverance comes in. Early on Daniel is pitched against a ‘lesser’ demon and this particular fight, while imaginative and entertaining takes up a rather large percentage of the book; reams of combat scene unbroken by lengthy dialogue or without cutting to another scene in the novel made for a bit of a long-haul. This happens a few times throughout the novel and I can imagine some readers being put off my such lengthy scenes – despite their varied and interesting elements. Personally, I found them growing on my as the novel progressed, but found myself a little shocked that such a lengthy scene was thrown in so early in the novel.
I’d also appreciate a bit more time taken from these highly impressive combat scenes to be put into the world building aspect of the story as I still have questions about the world itself. How are each of the Guardians recruited? We’re shown that Daniel is approached by Father at roughly the age of ten; how did his parents feel about this? Why they allow Daniel to be recruited into such an organisation? What were Adams (Daniels younger brother) thoughts on this and how did he become involved with the Guardians himself? I’m also interested in discovering more of the technical aspects of the world; there are hints at higher technological aspects compared to our Earth and seeing these explained and developed further would be a real treat! I feel like we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of learning when it comes to Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis and I am eager to learn more.
The end of Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis is rather open ended – which is what leads me to believe that this is part of a series – and I am looking forward to reading about what comes next for the characters remaining. There is a little nugget of information that leaves part of the story open-ended and I am eager to discover the intricacies of what’s been foreshadowed.
An engrossing book that offers is own unique take on the theological themes of Heaven vs Hell. With captivating, original characters all with individual quirks and personalities of their own. With some impressively well written, but long-winded combat scenes that will either grip or turn-off the reader. A well thought out debut novel that keeps the reader guessing in all the right places.