Title: Feather (Angels of Elysium book 1)
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Genre: An adult paranormal romance, most simply explained as an Angel/Sinner or Romeo & Juliet retelling.
Rating: (is this even a real question? Give me a book by Olivia that doesn’t get full stars. I’ll wait. Forever.)
Release Date: January 16th, 2020
Foreword: Olivia provided me with an ARC to review (thank you again! It’s always a fun, heartbreaking time). Just an FYI that this review will be super informal (shocker) and basically just be me praising this novel. Also, there are multiple triggers I want to put out there, including talk of and graphic description of suicide, self harm, bullying, torture and violence, sexual assault/harassment, and sexual content.
Leigh has never lost a feather- she has never done a sinful act, has never failed a mission, has never told a lie. Not only is she a Verity- a rare, pure blooded angel- but Leigh is a perfect example of what angels should strive to be: selfless, caring, honest and pure. So when Leigh gets the chance to marry an Archangel and make a difference for all angels, Leigh accepts the most ambitious mission in Fletchling history:
Take on a Triple, earn one-hundred feathers, to ascend to Elysium.
Jarod Adler is the leader of La Cour des Demons, the Parisian Mafia, and has been on the sinners list for almost seventeen years. Worth one hundred feathers for his crimes, one-hundred and thirty-one angels have attempted to reform him, only to be beaten by the Mafia leader and his court. If anyone stands a chance to help him, it would be sweet Leigh.
Only Jarod is a Triple for many reasons, and reforming anyone with a score that high is a miracle. Jarod doesn’t plan on letting Leigh walk away with her feathers- no, Jarod wants Leigh to fail. Because a selfish sinner has nothing left to lose, except the heart of a beautiful angel.
To start, I want to throw out all the appreciation for Olivia’s attention to detail. She lays all these subtle hints in her writing that allows you to flow smoothly through the story, all the while setting up a major plot twist that will leave you speechless. You think you’re reading one story, then everything you think you know is thrown out the window in the most amazing way.
About halfway through this story, said plot twist was revealed, and I could hardly wrap my head around how the story could get even more complex than it already was. All of our characters get explored down to their deep, selfish, torturous secrets. Their desires are exposed and stripped down and then built back up again. And just when you think you can guess the ending, you start to think again.
Underneath all the fantasy on the page, there are so many realistic things that Leigh and Jarod have to overcome. Betrayals from those you trust, finding self-love and worth, forgiving yourself, choosing your path, and understanding that the hardest decisions are those you make for yourself.
It’s easy to try and make others happy- but making yourself truly happy is hard, and Leigh’s character is forced to face this when she can no longer be a selfless fletchling. She has real insecurities- her love for food, her dislike of her curves, her desire to be seen and wanted and loved. She is perfectly imperfect, and I wish I could have been there to support her through it all. I felt for her on a personal level, and I could read parts of her story as if it were mine.
And Jarod’s character: our morally twisted sinner who is really just suffering from past trauma that is soiling his good soul. He is the embodiment of humanity, that no act is just good or bad, that no person can see just black or white, yet you still believe the worst in yourself and see the wrong in your choices. But he shows Leigh that her humanity and worth is more than just those wings on her back (although he loves her either way), and she knows that Jarod is not as tainted as his number makes him out to be.
Binding these two lovers together are an array of background characters that are just as complex, filled with secrets and lies that wind their way to Jarod and Leigh’s story. Some of them, including Muriel and Celeste, help form a dysfunctional yet loving sense of family. While others, notably Eve and Asher, face just as much inner turmoil to find where their loyalties lie.
Ending off with a legacy as heartbreaking as Romeo and and Juliet, Jarod and Leigh’s forbidden love was worth every second. And the series is going to continue on, which is more than I could have asked for, so I am beyond captivated the Angels of Elysium.
There it is, Olivia has done it again! Olivia’s writing always unwraps layer upon layer of her characters, starting with an interesting plot line and sucking you in with each new revelation until you are hooked and drowning in the emotions she brings out. I am never disappointed and always ready to dive into another one of her novels, so if you haven’t checked her out yet, Feather is an amazing one to start with!