Book Review: Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock

Summary:

wol-coverBorn of daimon and angel, Diago Alvarez is a being unlike all others. The embodiment of dark and light, he has witnessed the good and the horror of this world and those beyond. In the supernatural war between angels and daimons that will determine humankind’s future, Diago has chosen Los Nefilim, the sons and daughters of angels who possess the power to harness music and light.

As the forces of evil gather, Diago must locate the Key, the special chord that will unite the nefilim’s voices, giving them the power to avert the coming civil war between the Republicans and Franco’s Nationalists. Finding the Key will save Spain from plunging into darkness.

And for Diago, it will resurrect the anguish caused by a tragedy he experienced in a past life.

But someone—or something—is determined to stop Diago in his quest and will use his history to destroy him and the nefilim. Hearing his stolen Stradivarius played through the night, Diago is tormented by nightmares about his past life. Each incarnation strengthens the ties shared by the nefilim, whether those bonds are of love or hate . . . or even betrayal.

To retrieve the violin, Diago must journey into enemy territory . . . and face an old nemesis and a fallen angel bent on revenge.

Goodreads

Thoughts:

Although we’re first introduced to the world of Los Nefilim in a series of novellas, you can jump right in and read this novel as a stand alone with no issues.

We’re introduced right away to our main characters and thrown into their lives, getting a feel for who they are and the kinds of things they deal with being a part of Los Nefilim. By the way, I really appreciated the way information is conveyed within the writing. We glean all we need to know from within the context of the story instead of a bunch of exposition which can get tedious after a while. I loved that the author avoided this pitfall, especially because it kept us focused on the story. Anyway, back to characters. Diago, a new member of the group, is struggling with trying to do enough, in his mind, to feel accepted by the others. He feels like he needs to prove himself worthy of their trust. It’s in part because of this that Diago accepts a dangerous mission crossing over into the border of Germany. Meanwhile his husband, Miquel, while confident in Diago’s abilities, can’t help but worry about him while he’s dealing with Los Nefilim issues on the home turf. There are a lot of other great characters as well, and I especially loved the  way the relationships between some of the parents and their young children was portrayed.

My absolute favorite thing about the book, however, is the relationship between Diago, Miquel, and their son, Rafael. Despite the time period it takes place in, and despite the laws against homosexuality, the relationship does not at all feel strained by the restrictions of outside society. Within their society and circle of friends it’s normal and accepted and within that realm they are allowed to be who they are and it’s fantastic. I loved seeing their family and wish I got to see more of them together. You do get to see the other side of things, intolerance within the human societies, especially once Diago arrives in Germany and encounters other characters there. It makes one appreciate their relationship even more. It was so lovely seeing them as a family unit, too.

As for world-building, it’s excellent. You can tell the author has done her research regarding the settings and time period. Set in Spain not too long before the Spanish civil war, and in France and Germany while Nazism is on the rise, there is a lot of tension created just based on the setting alone. On top of that there is all of the history of the angels and demons and their offspring–the nefilim–living on earth. They provide another sense of tension as, although the various groups of nefilim somewhat align with their earthly regions, they definitely have their own power struggles going on . Add to the fact that the nefilim reincarnate and can sometimes remember their past lives, and that sometimes their relationships to each other were different in the past…there are just so many wonderful layers and they all work perfectly together to create an engaging story which builds over the course of the book to an exciting conclusion.

I’m not sure how you’d categorize this book and that’s another thing I love about it. Urban fantasy? Sure, it has elements of that. Historical fantasy? You betcha. And yet, it also has aspects of horror with the pace of a thriller. At the end of the day, this is dark fantasy at its finest. 4.5/5 stars.

Thanks much to the author for providing an ARC copy. This did not affect the content of my review in any way.

 

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