A Brief Comment on Book Reviews

While most self-respecting authors refuse to admit how much they enjoy reading customer reviews on Amazon, I don’t mind telling the truth: everyone does it and everyone enjoys it. Let’s be real here, it feels good to see what people say about our writing. I find it thrilling whenever a reader really gets what I’m saying. Earlier today I checked out my Amazon page for But the Angels Never Came, and I found a new review that really got it. In my excitement, I wrote this blog post and then pasted the review below. Check it out:blur-old-antique-book-medium

 

But the Angels Never Came, by Eric James Olson, is a multi-layered tale that takes the Bible story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, and sets it – with some significant changes, in two time periods in the future.

It’s important to read the introduction, which is part of the story. It explains that this is a 400-year old manuscript from the late 21st century, written between 2070 and 2117. It was also banned. Like many a scholarly presentation of an ancient manuscript, this one is annotated, with notes appearing in brackets at various points in the story. My favorite note explains that all errors of wording, spelling, and punctuation have been retained in the annotated version as part of the editor’s quest for verisimilitude.

It’s also important to be familiar with the Bible story, since the author uses elements of it all the way through the book. According to the story (Genesis 22: 1 – 19), God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (though many Muslims assume it is Ishmael). Abraham agrees, though he loves his son, preparing the altar and tying his son on top of the wood. When he takes out his knife to kill Isaac, an angel stops him and tells him to sacrifice a ram instead. It’s a puzzling story usually interpreted as a test of Abraham’s faith. The crux of this book, as the title explains, is what would happen if the angel didn’t show up.

The main story features a group of survivors escaping the post-Apocalyptic anarchy of the city and trying to reach the relative safety of Church Peak.

The inner story, told by a man originally identified as the Storyteller, concerns the flight of Abraham, his wife, Sarah, and their son. The more you know about the book of Genesis, the more you’ll enjoy the many references.

The Storyteller uses elevated diction typical of the Bible: “Thou shalt not steal. Would you be as Adam Lot? Would you sacrifice your life for the theft of another’s morsel?”

Sarah, though, uses very casual language and seems to be the only who sees people as they really are.

The Storyteller has a recurring vision, where he is a younger man standing on a field of grass. He sees a ram with the face of a boy. “The dagger found its place,” the boy said in the voice of a ram. But the second. The second can be prevented. Abraham,” the boy-ram said, “Do this and you are absolved of your sin.”

At the center of the story, the two stories overlap. Both groups are headed to Church Peak, and talk of faith and sacrifice abounds.
The ending is powerfully fierce.

This book is a treat – a layered, engaging read that never loses its intensity. Highly recommended.

 

And that’s it. Thanks for reading. And if you’d like to read it, click the title: But the Angels Never Came

 

About Eric James-Olson

Eric James-Olson writes novels and short stories. Currently, he's working on a coming-of-age novel set in the Panhandle of West-Virginia. Check out the "Novels by Eric James-Olson" tab above for the titles of his other books. In addition to writing, James-Olson is a high school English teacher, an amateur woodworker, and an outdoor enthusiast. He lives with his wife and daughter in West Virginia. View all posts by Eric James-Olson

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