Novella Review: Without Light or Guide by T. Frohock
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Los Nefilim #2
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (November 3, 2015)
With thanks to the publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many unique things about this urban fantasy, not the least of which is the setting. Typical urban fantasy takes you to current American city streets, but here we walk alleys and roads and tunnels in Spain, with the Spanish Civil War looming on the horizon. We also have a a main protagonist who is older than usual, and an approach to magic that toys with your senses.
This is the second in the Los Nefilim series, and it picks up a few weeks after Diago not only learned he had a son, but almost had to sacrifice that son to the daimon who holds Diago’s estranged father, at the demands of a horrifying angel. After barely getting out with his own life as well as that of his lover, Miquel, Diago has finally decided to choose a side. As a unique Nefilim that carries both daimon and angel blood, he has opted to stay away from both, living life as a mortal instead, but now he chosen to work with the angels — not that the angels are that much better than the daimons, and there is civil war afoot with the Nefilim set to serve as the angels’ soldiers, while mortals, well, sucks to be you, mortals. Diago must work with Los Nefilim who might not like him so much, and earn their trust — but only if he too is willing to be truthful.
I mentioned magic, which Frohock seems to love. Better yet, she loves unique forms of magic, with many of her stories basing their magic in music. Los Nefilim is no different, but Without Light or Guide adds a new dimension through Diago’s frequent attacks of chromethesia. I am endlessly fascinated by synesthesia — the confusion of senses wherein one might smell words or taste sounds. Diago’s chromesthesia turns sounds into blinding colour. It is a detriment now, but I look forward to it perhaps becoming something more, especially in connection to his son, Rafael’s drawings and considerable powers.
The first half of this story moves slowly through a detective novel-like plot as Diago and his grudging companions try to discern the cause of several ghastly murders and determine what the angels and daimons have planned. Diago wrestles with his reality, his relationships — especially between himself and Miquel, and with his father, whom Diago fears becoming. When he finally finds some solid ground to work with, things fall into place, but of course, that’s inevitably when the bad guys attack and love and loyalties are pushed to their limits. But we still have more to go to find out the fate of Diago, his family, Los Nefilim, and everyone else….!