In Midnight’s Silence, by T Frohock

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Publication date – June 23, 2015

Summary: The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.

Thoughts: I have such a soft spot for anything to do with fallen angels. I’ve had a fascination with them for years, pretty much since I was in my teens, and so am just a touch predisposed to enjoy stories involving them. Add in male/male romance, and you pretty much have something that trip a couple of my biggest triggers in the best way. Knowing Frohock’s writing, and knowing those two things, I figured I was going to love this novella even before I started reading the first page.

Diago is a man torn between two worlds. With both daimonic and angelic heritage, he’s loyal to neither, remaining as neutral as he can while still supporting Miquel, his angelic lover who is bound to thwart daimons. It’s a fine line to walk, and it doesn’t come easy. But when Miquel disappears and Diago’s mysterious past comes back to haunt him, he finds himself unable to remain quite so neutral as everything hits hard and close to home.

Characters like Diago are great to read, occupying that great space between insider and outsider. In remaining neutral, at least officially, he allows the reader an opportunity to see both sides while choosing neither. Even so, though, it’s fairly clear early on that he favours the angels more than daimons. Perhaps because of Miquel, perhaps because he just generally disagrees with daimons but can’t bring himself to make that his official stance, I can’t really say. Even so, most of the story wasn’t about a man caught in the middle. It had more to do with personal salvation, with acceptance, with facing your past and acknowledging who and what it made you, with sacrifice and responsibility. How the past can catch up to you no matter how much you try to outrun or deny it, and sometimes that turns out to be a mixed blessing rather than an outright curse. There are so many of these little themes that add up to a strong message, and not a word wasted as the story gets told.

It’s worth pointing out that I love the subtleties in the way the author handled angels. They are immortal beings, yes, but they don’t hang around in the same body for hundreds of years. They can be killed. And when they die, they’re reborn into new bodies, to keep living. (Another good trigger tripped, there; I’m a sucker for reincarnation.) The new bodies bear scars and injuries from the previous body, and it’s established that some angels who can’t handle the idea of a new life with such disfigurements will choose to be enslaved by daimons instead. Which sounds shallow and selfish, until you think that some of them might have been in the reincarnation cycle for centuries, and have faced torture, and wanting an escape to that is nothing to be chosen lightly. This isn’t a major plot point within In Midnight’s Silence, but it speaks to the large amount of worldbuilding that Frohock put into a novella that would still have been fantastic even without the extra detail.

In Midnight’s Silence is dark without going over the top, poignant without being rigidly moral. And considering some of the themes involved, such as sexual consent or taking responsibility for someone else’s actions, that’s actually pretty impressive.

This is only the first part of an ongoing story, and I, for one, and eager to read part 2 already! Frohock has started something wonderful here, the perfect balance of dark and hopeful, draws a distinction between religion, faith, a spirituality right from the get-go; it’s unique and brilliant and, for all that it’s short, it has some reread value if you’ve got an interest in religious mythologies. It’s hard to escape the lure of the web that Frohock has woven, and I’m not inclined to try. As I said before, this novella trips all the right triggers, and  suspect it will continue to do so as the story expands.

(Received for review as part of a book tour.)

GUEST POST: My Favorite Fallen Angel, by T Frohock

T Frohock is a wonderful author and a great person all around, which is why I was thrilled to be part of the blog tour for her new novella, In Midnight’s Silence. As part of the blog tour, she was good enough to write a guest post for Bibliotropic, talking about her favourite fallen angel.

Gosh, and I have to pick just one …

This is a difficult exercise, because whenever I’m asked about fallen angels, I generally whip out one of my copies of Paradise Lost, then I get utterly lost in the beauty of Milton’s language. Then I revert to The Book of Enoch and become overwhelmed by the sheer number and functions of the angels. Now two hours have passed and I still haven’t written a blog post. So in the end, I switch over to the Internet and plug a random search, and today’s winner is …

… [drum roll please] …

We’re going to go with my favorite fallen angel on film and that is Michael Piccirilli’s Asmodeus in the Australian movie, Gabriel. The story is rather simple: the fallen angels and the heavenly angels fight over the souls trapped within purgatory, which is portrayed as an urban hell filled with abandoned buildings, decrepit trailer parks, and soup kitchens where some of the homeless are actually angels hiding from the fallen. In order to move through the city, the angels have to take mortal form. You can tell the fallen angels from the Heavenly angels by the colors of their eyes.

220px-Gabrielposter The entire film is shot at night. There is a lot of fighting, because both Michael and Gabriel were warriors, so the narrative fits. You will endure some moralizing over free will and the right to choose one’s destiny, but not so much as to interfere with the fighting and dark urban fantasy feel of the flick. It’s a gritty [grimdark, if you will] take on angels and death, much like The Prophecy, which I also loved, because, hey, Christopher Walken.

In Gabriel, Asmodeus runs a brothel where he enslaves other angels and mortals, who he forces into prostitution. Piccirilli gives a chilling performance as Asmodeus, turning the fallen angel into a psychopath with a cunning tongue. Asmodeus is incredibly vain, and he chooses to live as one of the fallen in order to satisfy his carnal desires.

One of the best scenes in the movie has Asmodeus unwrapping bandages from a woman’s face. Asmodeus has been performing plastic surgery on her to make her look like him. The narcissism of his experiment lies in his argument that everyone should have free will, yet he—like God—intends to recreate mortals in his image. It was a brilliant flip on the narrative, and one of the creepiest scenes I’ve seen on film.

The Asmodeus of legend, though, wasn’t really a fallen angel. He was a demon, who appeared in the Book of Tobit, which is part of the Catholic and Orthodox Biblical canon. In the Book of Tobit, Asmodeus was in love with Raguel’s daughter Sarah, who was a bit hard to marry off, because on her wedding night, Asmodeus would appear and murder her prospective husband before the marriage could be consummated. The angel Raphael helped Tobias drive Asmodeus away so that he could consummate his marriage with Sarah.

Although the line between demon and fallen angel gets blurred, I had no trouble setting that aside to watch Gabriel, and Piccirilli’s performance really makes it worthwhile. I also loved Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) as the angel Gabriel. If you’re into eighties and nineties urban fantasy flicks, you’ll probably enjoy Gabriel. Then you can come back here and tell me about your favorite fallen angel.

tfrohockT. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. Her other publications include everything from novelettes to short stories. She is also the author of the novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is coming from Harper Voyager Impulse and debuts in June 2015 with the novella, In Midnight’s Silence. She can be found on her website and on Twitter.

Many thanks, T, for the guest post, and the really interesting look at a movie that I now want to watch!

For the record, my favourite fallen angels are Semjaza (whose name popped into my head as a teenager; I didn’t learn for years that it was the name of a fallen angel), and Penemue (He taught men to understand writing, and the use of ink and paper). Fallen angels have fascinated me for a long time, which is one of the reasons I was so eager to ask for a post about fallen angels for the blog tour.

Stay tuned for a review of In Midnight’s Silence, coming later today!