Tue
Dec 6 2011 11:00am

A Compliment to Fantasy: Archon: The Book of Raziel

Angela Mathers lives in a gritty and merciless world.

Raised in an atmosphere of extreme physical and emotional abuse, she has taken the shocking route of attempted suicide in order to unite with a beautiful angel she has dreamed of since birth. Surely, she thinks, he will save her from the torment that is her life. Unfortunately, Angela is not aware that her infatuation might lead to dangerous ramifications for the entire universe—and that her beautiful angel might be even more psychologically and emotionally wounded than her.

My novel Archon is many things.

The first installment of a trilogy, it is a gothic paranormal thriller. Epic, it hints at a world beyond our own where intrigues simmer and supernatural creatures pull mortal strings. Intricate, it requires the attention of careful readers and an appreciation of detail, mystery, and subtlety. Characters, whether angelic, demonic, or human, often hide behind masks built by their inner pain—or by unwilling possession. Alliances shift, loyalties change. Angels and demons are otherworldly, fascinating but frightening, inhabiting a world far above human value systems and morals. Infatuation leads to deadly consequences, and love is a treasure that must be worked for. Its loss or lack ultimately drives many of the characters to shocking decisions and painful conclusions.

Yet at its most simple, Archon is the beginning of an epic story about the consequences of broken hearts, and how their pain can affect any individual—angelic, demonic, or otherwise.

In Luz—the gothic city where the story begins—there are no absolute villains to be found. Many of the characters who appear ’evil’ suffer from the need for love and the terror of loss, while the ’good’ constantly struggle with their own inner darkness and moral failings, making the words ’angel’ and ’demon’ definitions of place rather than personality.

Angela Mathers, Archon’s protagonist, is the unlikely heroine pulled into the depths of this sea of uncertainties. A person who has grown mistrustful of human beings, convinced by bitter experience that emotional attachment is often punished with betrayal, she is also reckless, someone who has learned that the usual rules of death do not apply in her misguided search for freedom.

Is she the Archon? The one destined to be a dark messiah, “the Ruin,” the person who might sit on the throne of the Devil and bring about an immense and endless silence?

And if so, will Angela fight that fate and the Devil behind it?

Angela must decide quickly who she can trust and who she cannot as opposing sides push and pull, urging her toward one action or the next. Enter a novice priest, romantically involved with Angela’s increasingly bitter enemies. Kim exudes an intoxicating aura of danger and charm, drawing Angela in despite her better judgment. But there is also the beautiful angel from Angela’s dreams, Israfel, who has emerged from the mists of legend to claim her as his own. There are so many reasons why she should say “no” to both. But can she?

Like Angela, they are far from perfect. Damaged, hurt, they too are only just beginning to trust.

Archon is a novel for people who are entranced by deeply woven mysteries and emotions. It is an intense book, dealing with shocking, edgy, and sometimes painful issues. But it is a novel that advocates growth, one where light can be discovered in the midst of great darkness. I have often been asked why Archon begins in this fragile dark place. Stories tend to take the opposite approach, leaving chaos and broken hearts for the very end.

Perhaps my intent was to start low and climb high.

Archon begins in the abyss of one girl’s moral psyche and hints at a powerful climb to resurrection. And isn’t life like that more often than not? Characters like Angela have the option to ascend or descend, and whether they are fallen angels or not, it is this powerful need for salvation that ultimately motivates them as characters.

Intricate and involved, Archon invites people to dive into a challenging fantasy that is daring and different. Readers who long to put pieces of a puzzle together themselves, who expect an introduction to something epic rather than immediate resolution, and who aren’t fearful of questioning human notions of gender, identity, and morality will find enjoyment in this trilogy. I anticipate that Archon will dare many people to really read, think, and remember who is who, and what is what in order to enjoy the tapestry that it is. I can promise that the story will continue to evolve, both in plot and characters—and that you may never expect how the subtlest details will connect.

Like the real world it reflects, Archon pulls no punches.

And that is meant to be both a compliment to fantasy and to you.


Sabrina Benulis lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, a spoiled cockatiel, and a lot of backyard wildlife. When she isn’t writing, you can find her shopping or reading in a comfy little nook somewhere. Archon is her first novel, and the first installment in her trilogy The Book of Raziel.

This article is part of Barnes & Noble Bookseller’s Picks: ‹ previous | index | next ›
1 comment
riya
1. riya
very very nice bok

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