*This book was sent to me for review purposes by the author. All opinions are my own.
When Rebecca Crunden reached out to me about reviewing her fantasy novel, A Game of Wings and Marks, I was immediately intrigued. The synopsis made me think of Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas, which I LOVED, so I agreed to review the book. It wasn’t quite on the same level as Crescent City but it was an enjoyable read, nonetheless. I’ll share the rest of my thoughts after the synopsis. This review will have spoilers.
When Octavia Coal goes to the mountains to clear her head, she doesn’t expect to find an angel in trouble.
He tells her his name is Tamiel and he’s one of the Irin – the army of angels tasked with keeping demons from overwhelming humanity. But Tamiel broke a sacred law – he fell in love with a human – and now he’s being hunted by the same angels he once served.
With nowhere else to go, Octavia and Tamiel – along with Jack, the human in question, and her brother Caleb – appeal directly to Zev, the Demon of Games. A trickster of unparalleled power, Zev gives nothing for free, and the gift he offers Octavia to keep Tamiel alive comes with a confusing catch: He makes her the Healer of Raphael, archangel and Commander of the Irin.
Suddenly a target for both angels and demons, Octavia quickly learns that the only way to survive is to play the game better than they do.
The only problem is, she doesn’t know whose game she’s playing…
I’m always a little apprehensive when it comes to reading books about angels and demons because I am a Christian. I fully believe in both angels and demons so I typically don’t enjoy reading about them in fantasy. However, I found Crunden’s version of both to be quite different than the typical Christian depictions; more along the lines of Supernatural than anything religious. Once I got past that, I was able to fully get into the story. This book was a solid three star read for me. There were some things I liked but there were some things I disliked.
I think the story idea, as a whole, is a really good one. I love books where the totally normal person gets sucked into a fantasy world that they previously knew nothing about. That’s exactly what happens to our main character, Octavia. She’s dragged into a feud that’s been going on for thousands of years between these mythical creatures and she has to figure out her role in all of it. I’m pretty picky about main female characters but I really liked Octavia and truly enjoyed all of the characters in general, especially Zev. If Crunden releases a future book solely about him, I’ll be reading it. I’m a sucker for the whole “bad guy that’s really a softie” trope.
I honestly wouldn’t mind reading any of Crunden’s future releases because the talent is there. This book was extremely well edited and the story line flowed well but I did have some issues with the writing.
I love a fast paced book that grabs my attention and this one did just that… but it honestly moved a little too fast. I felt that there was very little build up for most of the scenes. There would be an intense scene but it would be wrapped up immediately and there was no real stakes or tension. I also felt that many of the one on one scenes were way too bare bones. For example, during one scene, it’s stated that Zev walked over to Octavia and then Octavia thought to herself that Zev tasted like cinnamon and wine. Him kissing her was NEVER mentioned. There were many moments like that where I was left confused because key interactions were left out. Another big example of this was when Octavia got pregnant with Zev’s baby and I wasn’t even aware they had had sex. Of course, sex scenes in books don’t need to be explicit but if you’re going to have a character get pregnant, I need to know SOMETHING happened. This is clearly an issue of telling, not showing.
There was also a healthy dose of instalove and a forced love triangle. I personally just don’t like instalove and I don’t mind love triangles if it seems like the character in the middle is really torn about who to be with. It was clear who Octavia wanted to be with at all times so the love triangle wasn’t believable. Of course, these things won’t bother all readers and are just based on my personal preferences.
If you’re looking for a fast paced, fantasy story about angels and demons, I don’t think you would be terribly disappointed with this one. It wasn’t my favorite but I’m not mad that I read it. I think Rebecca Crunden is an author worth keeping up with and I look forward to seeing what she releases in the future. As always, I’d love to know your thoughts about this story or my review! Thanks for reading and have a great day!