This is the long anticipated third book in the Elijah Hael series, however it can read as standalone without having read the previous two books. Having said that, this is a great introduction to this series, and I would encourage any reader new to the Elijah Hael series to start with this one. It definitely gives the background to Sophia, and you will understand her better in the Elijah Hael books from reading this one. The other advantage is that the reader should pick up some connections from this book to the previous two, so Goodwin states and is quite proud of this fact. He throws it out there to see who picks up these connections. I must confess, I am still working on this as it is within 4 months since reading the previous two. I have mentioned this to the author, and he has allowed me to mention that "The crucifix Anne gives to Michael is the same one that Seth uses in The Genetic Code".
Goodwin has stated that The Angelic Gene is different from Elijah Hael books and after reading this, I would agree. Set in a much earlier time than the previous two, Sophia is much younger, her age spans from birth to age 16 years in this novel compared to a much older and mature age in the other two books. In this novel she is human and in the other two in another form. You will have to read these novels to know what I mean by that statement. No spoilers!
I really loved this novel! One of my favourites! It really is a beautiful story. There is a gentleness in Goodwin's writing but a firmness or solidness in its delivery. It flows well, and Goodwin has, without too much detail, transported the reader into the 1870s.
Some of these are done well by adding historical events such as who the character of Jack really is other than Memphis' pawn and what he is known for in history is connected to Memphis' plans.I have a soft spot for Jack. Despite his infamy in recorded history, the background Goodwin provides for this character encouraged me to see him as a lost soul caught in desperation of his condition and a slave of his fear of dying and of the afterlife. This develops in him a hatred of God and of Christians, but it is this that actually enables him to consider over the course of this book, that these Christians have the peace and freedom that he so desperately desires and that God might just be who He says He is. Memphis, who hates God with his entire being, actually unknowingly and unwittingly gives Jack a clue to this revelation. And it is this that gives him the motivation to make divisive action against his master. I did admire him for this but was heart broken that despite this, his outcome and end was the same as if he had not done this action. I consider Jack one of Goodwin best developed characters.
Another event recorded in history is that of Kate Kibble, one of 37 women, banned from Birmingham pubs for being habitually drunk and yes she did have one eye! I thought the inclusion here of Kate's demise while Jack was contemplating his situation in the pub and to have to attend to Kate was well done and strengthened my affection for him! Yet another, was the reference to William Booth, who we know as the founder of The Salvation Army. All these events have added credibility to the era that Goodwin has successfully transported the reader to.Goodwin has depicted Anne and Sophia as very realistic children of their age groups throughout the novel. Developing their characters right from the beginning, their innocence, vulnerability and frailty due to be orphaned is well done and endears you to these two. You cannot do anything else except feel for them, support them and want to protect them and Goodwin's development of Michael as guide, protector and mentor helps the reader here in developing the reader's rapport with these two orphans. Goodwin has also depicted the closeness of Anne and Sophia very well as inseparable friends (and something deeper, but you will have to read the novel to find out in what way this is!!) and this adds a great depth to the plot and their important role in the fight against Memphis and fulfilling the prophecy.
I must make mention here of the dog, Dash. This adds another "character" to become endeared to and I discover from the author that Dash is based on his own dog of the same breed and name as his own. I can see how Goodwin has portrayed Dash here as pretty much the same as he experienced Dash in his life and the depiction of the relationship between Dash and the two girls. Very nicely done.
Memphis has been developed successfully as the demon bent on destroying Sophia and all connected to her in achieving his dominance of the world and Goodwin provides him with a great degree of evilness that does make you feel creepy, especially in his mastery of the demonic practices of sorcery and necromancy.
I love the way Goodwin has introduced the angelic involvement. With one angelic character, there is a twist that I did not see coming, but once you do, it makes sense and I chuckled at the cleverness of Goodwin to include and add another layer to the plot and relationship between the characters.
I loved the ending, the final confrontation between Sophia and her band of warriors against Memphis and his demonic army and the aftermath. I did cry at the demise of one loved character and the happiness of another and how this could flow into a sequel.
All in all, the loose ends are tied up, but I can see that it is possible for a fourth book in this series, especially one to follow on from this one but also to fit in with the previous two.
Goodwin has stated that The Angelic Gene has a special place in his heart and I can understand why, I can say the same for me as well. Won't forget this one in a hurry. I would love to see this made into a movie!! It would be a ripper!
The author gifted this novel to me as a Kindle edition and this has not influenced my review. I have made it known to him that this review is based entirely on my opinion and how I interpreted his novel.
The Angelic Gene: Highly Recommended.