[Review] Without Light or Guide, by T. Frohock

Without Light or Guide

Series: Los Nefilim #2
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
Release date: 3rd November 2015
This edition: Kindle

Note: I received my copy of this novella from the publisher via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.


The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Always holding themselves aloft from the affairs of mortals, Los Nefilim have thrived for eons. But with the Spanish Civil War looming, their fragile independence is shaken by the machinations of angels and daimons…and a half-breed caught in-between.

For although Diago Alvarez has pledged his loyalty to Los Nefilim, there are many who don’t trust his daimonic blood. And with the re-emergence of his father—a Nefil who sold his soul to a daimon—the fear is Diago will soon follow the same path.

Yet even as Diago tries to prove his allegiance, events conspire that only fuel the other Nefilim’s suspicions—including the fact that every mortal Diago has known in Barcelona is being brutally murdered.

The second novella in T. Frohock’s Los Nefilim series, Without Light or Guide continues Diago’s journey through a world he was born into, yet doesn’t quite understand.

Back in July, when I read the first entry in this novella series, I knew I was onto something special. In fact, here’s what I said about In Midnight’s Silence in July’s recap post:

The first novella in a series that (god I’m such an addict) I cannot wait to read more of, In Midnight’s Silence combines angels, demons, period setting (1930s Barcelona), romantic drama and a take on magic that is very probably the number one reason I want more: spellcasting with music. YES GOOD. MORE PLEASE. For my first taste of Teresa Frohock’s writing, this novella went down an absolute treat.

Well, I wanted more, and the author (and her publisher, thanks guys!) were awesome enough to offer it to me. Now I’ve already got this second novella pre-ordered, but the chance to read an advance copy was too good to say no to. And let me tell you – if I wasn’t invested in this series from the first installment, I most certainly am now.

If the magical premise and the urban setting were what got my attention the first time out, it’s the deeper aspects of the plot’s ongoing mystery and the aforementioned romantic drama that are keeping me reading on. Diago’s relationship with his partner, Miquel, and his/their growing bond with Diago’s son Rafael, is so wonderfully written that I consider the ‘quiet’ scenes with just the three of them, including one in which Diago explains the nature of his and Miquel’s relationship to Rafael, to be some of the best of either novella so far.

This might be a series focusing on angels and daimons and murder mysteries and pending doom and gloom, but the story that wins me over is so much more human, the warm light to counter all the suspicion and darkness looming everywhere. Again, Diago himself is a perfect case in point: his dual nature means that there isn’t much about his life that’s going to be simple, or easy to deal with. That includes everything going on in his head. He has the comfort of love to rely on, but there’s a lot of anger in Diago as well – perfectly understandable after all that we know he’s gone through thus far in life (and that’s just this life; angels are capable of reincarnation, and the general distrust of Diago among Los Nefilim apparently goes back a very long way). The looming darkness here is far from merely external, and given all that he may stand to lose it makes the question of ‘will he fall or won’t he?’ even more unnerving to consider.

And yet, let’s not forget all those marvellous fantasy trappings, because I may have seen a lot in my urban fantasy-reading time, but Los Nefilim is so enticingly fresh that I can’t help loving it for that alone. A written story that features the use of music as magic is a rather risky approach to take, because I’d imagine it’s harder to be certain of capturing the reader’s imagination in such a way. Speaking for myself, however, it pays off beautifully. I got chills during the ‘fight’ scenes in this book where Diago uses his song in defense. It hits just the right notes (no pun intended) for an amazingly dramatic impact.

I’m not sure how much more of this my melty little heart can stand, but I’ll bloody well find out…



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