Lily, the Broken Angel

The supernatural isn’t exactly new. Ghost hunting is in, vampires are out, and even if your pets don’t actually answer you when you talk to them, you secretly suspect that one day they might. Culturally, we love mysterious, inexplicable stuff. Always have, always will. (Especially the talking animal bit. Animals have been chatting it up since fairy tales began. No wonder Tolkien thought it was clever…)

So what about the rest of the supernatural realm? Though it’s been a few years, no one will be likely to forget Harry Potter (Mista Potta!) or Edward and Bella (“Vampires…sparkle!” Indeed.) any time soon. But what about…angels?

One katastrophe reviewer said that it was like I took a binder of everything I knew about angels and everything I knew about 90s bands and threw them together (“…in a ceiling fan” I believe were her exact words. To be fair, I mention only two 90s bands in this book, and I WAS HOLDING BACK. I lived the 90s. I am the 90s. Freaky, plaid-wearing neighbor girl in pink Docs, right here. Anyway…).

I read that review and thought, Ooooooooh…am I supposed to know things about angels? Because, yeah, not so much. Lily Caleno is an angel (don’t worry, no spoilers) but I had no idea how she was going to act until she did. Ok, so that’s not completely true. I knew she wasn’t going to hang around in wispy wings with a harp, rescuing little old ladies from burning buildings. No, she wasn’t destined for that.

Her path was already a lot darker. 

If you read between the lines (and pick up some of the clues) you can tell that something happened to Lily in Seattle, before she was settled into the area around Phila, working with the kids at Marshall High. Something bad. Have you ever heard that saying, “That which is like unto itself is drawn?” So, in the same way yin and yang make a new whole and certain magnets attract, in my world it made sense to have the mysterious Council send a slightly broken angel to help slightly broken humans. (And really, haven’t angels always been a little broken?)

Any Cassandra Clare fans here? I was blown away when I first read her Clockwork Angel trilogy a few years ago. Good stuff! (I devoured her Shadowhunter series, jumped from there into her Dark Artifices novels, and am now starting her Last Hours books.) Lily as a character already existed when I found Clare’s books, and her and my storylines don’t have much in common…but her characters! Wow. They really underscored for me that when it comes to the supernatural, there are no rules. Logic, sure, because that’s different.

Lily isn’t stupid, dishonest, or careless, so she wouldn’t make bad decisions, lie, or do things in a sloppy way. Flawed, though, opens up some possibilities…she gets testy, impatient, and even a little ruthless. She has friends which, if they are real and true (Dane is both), make us vulnerable to hurt, sadness, and all that good stuff that goes with having an open heart. In some ways she feels almost human. But she’s not, no matter how many earrings she has in or how curated her CD collection seems.
Angels as a concept date waaaay back. You can find Biblical, New Age, and astrological descriptions of angels who are considered messengers, protectors, overseers, and even psychics in their own way, predicting and helping silly humans avoid disaster. Lily does all this and more, in her own way, all while rocking a great lippy.

She’s angelic. She’s wrathful at times. And she cares. Pretty sure that’s all that matters.

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