So I decided to re-read some of my old favourites, sifting through my bookshelves. I wasn’t going to write about this but the Penryn & the End of Days trilogy by Susan EE is so underrated and never seems to get the recognition that it deserves. The first book was released back in 2011 and from there I followed the release of the books, addicted in the same way I now am with Maas books. This is the first post of three and we’re starting with book 1, Angelfall.
The book starts with a family together, fighting off starvation in a world reduced to rubble by invading angels. The angel’s arrival on earth ripped the world apart and initially, there seems to be no motive behind the invasion other than to torment and kill humans. Penryn, her sister, and her unhinged mother have survived the initial few months and managed to stay together unlike many others. However, things very quickly take a turn for the worst when the family finds themselves in the middle of an execution of an archangel. A group of angels brutalise an injured angel before severing the angels’ wings and continuing to fight with the wounded angel. Penryn interferes before the angels manage to make the killing blow and the angels take her sister as punishment for her coming between them and Raffe, the angel who they intended to kill. Suddenly Penryn finds herself responsible for Raffe, a broken and wingless angel and decides that he is her best chance at finding her sister. Making the deal that she will help him to get his wings reattached in return for his help to infiltrate the aerie, the two become the most unlikely of companions in a world gone to hell.
The main plot of the first book is of Penryn and Raffe trying to find Paige and find an angel surgeon with the skill and nerve to reattach Raffe’s wings again. But what a roller-coaster that takes us. An excellent book filled with sarcasm and wit, pain and an unlikely budding friendship, Angelfall is a fantastic start to the series and kicks off well for the events of the next two books.
I always love a story with strong, independent characters and Penryn definitely fits that description. A great thing about Penryn is that she is only about 5″2 and quite skinny (the end of the world would probably do that to you) and so she is deceptive of the stereotype she is expected to fit. In other words, she seems far more vulnerable a character than what she actually is. You believe in her from the beginning because she is just so brilliant. The only thing driving her is the love of her family, which is strong enough for her to stand up to certain death.
“I never kid about my warrior demigod status.”
“Oh. My. God.” I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. “You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.”
She is a relatable kind of character (especially for me considering we both seem to have quite a dry sense of humour) and I really enjoy her as a protagonist.
“Are you really an archangel?” I whisper.
He gives me a cocky grin. “Impressed?”
“No,” I lie. “But I have some complaints I’d like to file about your personnel.”
“Talk to middle management.”
I follow him out the door, giving him my
There is so much sass and sarcasm in the book (and throughout the whole series). Honestly, it’s oozing with it. The relationship between Penryn and Raffe quickly turns into snarky banter that appeals to my aforementioned dry sense of humour (Raffe is my spirit animal). The book is ripe with this kind of humour. In a world gone to hell, it seems to have brought out a sinister kind of humour in our characters and it’s excellent.
The big attraction of this book is, of course, the angels. The plot is different from other YA novels I’d read because there are not too many that focus around angels and demons in the way that this series does. Of course, there is the Shadowhunter series but the angels are the good guys in that series (at least, for the most part). Angelfall is the story of angels bringing the apocalypse to earth and mostly for personal reasons, rather than acting as the Hands of God. Many of it seems to be acting on selfish whims, cunning and manipulative, and in many ways, it shows that the angels are no better than the humans they try to hold themselves above so relentlessly.
Raffe is a grumpy character but in so many ways just reminded me of a grumpy old cat that really wants some love but pretends like he doesn’t. He’s a sweetheart in underrated ways but, like Penryn, doesn’t seem to lose sight of what is pushing him to keep going. He finds companionship in the most unlikely of places and the pair relies on each other to keep going. It would have been so easy for Raffe just to give up, in the position that he was in he could have very easily just have turned his back on his kind. But there is strength in the determination to keep going and strength in the determination to do what is right.
One of the main things that I love about this series is that Penryn doesn’t lose sight of what drives her. Everything that she does she does for her family as we see from the very beginning of the book. She puts herself between an angel and his severed wings in order to find her little sister and even goes so far as to threaten and then cut his wings with scissors to get him to do what she wants. The damage she inflicts on his wings is never forgotten and always acts as a reminder of who he was, what he was and what she was fighting for.
And of course then there is the romance. It actually isn’t a huge aspect of the Angelfall which you may be relieved to know but considering how the relationship between Penryn and Raffe starts it is surprising that it develops. It kicks off in a love/hate kind of way and carries on in a similar manner. It is a forbidden kind of romance, a heart-wrenching kind of romance, but it is beautiful and we need to ship it.
“What if they don’t let us through?” I ask, trying not to move my lips.
“They will,” he answers from the dark recesses of the backseat footwell.
“How do you know?”
“Because you have the look they’re looking for.”
“What look is that?”
“Beautiful.” His voice is like a caress from the shadows.
This was a book that horrified me, shocked me and made me laugh. It is by far the best post-apocalypse fantasy novel I’ve ever read. Head over to this link here to read the first few chapters of the book straight from Susan EE herself.
Have you read the series before or even the book? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time!
End of Days
Angel Fall – Susan EE