Publisher: Rose and Star Publishing
Publication Date: April 26, 2022
Series or Standalone: Gods & Monsters #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: Violence; torture; murder; death; depression/PTSD; suicide; war
I came to this book for the hero but stayed for the villain. Or villainess, I should say.
Don’t be scared of the length of The Book of Azrael – once you start reading it, you’ll fly through it and not want to put it down! But be warned – there is a killer cliffhanger at the end!
Dianna gave up her life a thousand years ago to save her sister. She called on anyone who would listen, not expecting a monster far worse than her nightmares to answer. Now she does what Kaden wants, even if it means securing an ancient relic from the creatures that hunt her crime. After the Gods War, Liam, formerly known as Samkiel and more commonly referred to as the World Ender, shut himself away, hiding from the world. But an attack on those he holds dear sends him back to the one realm he never wished to visit again and into the sights of an enemy he thought he imprisoned years ago. Now enemies of old must work together to save their world and all the realms in between.
I love me a good, complicated villainess, and Dianna is exactly that. She delivers the sass, the snark, and the stabbing I want from my morally grey heroines. She’s a badass, complicated woman, and I immediately loved her.
Despite being on what I’d call team evil, Dianna has a softer side that we see through her relationship with her sister Gabby. Dianna would do ANYTHING for her sister, including giving up her own life in service of the bad guy. That kind of devotion is really striking. Dianna’s relationship with her sister grounds hers, humanizes her. That relationship is central to the story and is a main driver behind much of Dianna’s actions and the plot of the story. I still have questions and theories about her powers, but I’m excited to see what happens to Dianna in book 2, as the ending of this book will have some SERIOUS implications for her character development.
And then we have Liam, also known as Samkiel and the World Ender, and boy, could he not be more different personality-wise, but they both are broken in their own way. When we met him, he is in a very dark mental state. He’s suffering from PTSD and depression, with the literal weight of the worlds on his shoulder and massive expectations placed on him. While he may be viewed as a god, he considers himself a monster. Slowly and reluctantly, he works to confront his issues, opening himself up more emotionally. But he’s still got a long way to go to get back to the man he was before. I enjoyed all the layers to his character as we see different versions of him in flashbacks, as it helped drive home just how much his actions impacted him mentally and emotionally.
Now if you want a TRUE enemies-to-lovers book, that is EXACTLY what you get with The Book of Azrael. By nature of who they are, Dianna and Liam are technically mortal enemies – their kinds of have been fighting each other for centuries. Both Dianna and Liam try to kill the other and their companions at various points in this book. But watching their relationship develop, albeit a bit slowly, was sweet. You get fantastic flirty banter and fighting, but also some real emotions and deep feelings between them. I’m excited to see where the relationship goes in book 2 as I feel like some significant obstacles are still coming their way.
The world-building in this book was decent, but it does take a while for all the pieces to start to fit together. It’s a bit confusing sorting out the world, the creatures, the religion, and the magic in the beginning. I am not sure I 100% understand all the nuances of the world yet, and I feel there is still a lot more to play with and explore in future books, but I didn’t find this hampering my enjoyment of the story by any means.
This book is a bit of a beast in terms of length, as it clocks in at nearly 500 pages. But the book never felt like it was that long. I flew through this book as the story immediately hooked me. The pacing is perfect. Amber Nicole seamlessly weaves the action, exposition, world-building, and romance together. It feels balanced – for every big action scene, we get an equal amount of quiet, softer scenes focusing on the characters, their relationships, and their emotions. There are some fun twists and turns in the plot along the way and a killer ending, making me even more excited for book two.
I picked this book up on a whim after seeing some fantastic fan art, and I am SO glad I did. This delivered exactly what I wanted, with a feisty, morally grey heroine, a complex and troubled hero with lots of action and romance to boot. I’m so glad I don’t have to wait long for book 2, The Throne of Broken Gods, because the ending is a cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!