Fourteen angels are cited in the Book of Revelation. The final angel brings forth the end of days, but only after humanity has gone through a series of trials to ready it for this event. However, what happens if the earlier omens that would trigger each of the angels are skipped, and the final angel is brought forth too soon, far before mankind is ready and ahead of God’s plan? A secret faction of the Catholic Church, the Hetairia Melchizedek, studies omens and signs, hoping to protect the world from this ever happening. When a prophetic dream and change in a statue of Remiel, the final angel, occur, the society, including young priest Chris Mognahan, seek to find the incarnation of the angel on earth so they may work with her to prevent the premature end, and protect her from the evil Other that seeks to destroy her.
The Sounding was a far more thoughtful and exciting novel than I had anticipated. Following several introductory pages of the Book of Revelation describing the angels and end of days, the opening of the novel hits with a bang–a supernatural murder on a college campus. Alerted by the strangeness of the killing, Father Mognahan alerts the Hetairia Melchizedek, and, together with a mute monk, searches the campus for Remiel. They find her in the form of Elise Moore, a beautiful young student who has lived a quiet life hiding her supernatural powers from those around her.
Although Elise was initially a hard character for me to come to like, over time her character is expanded to the point that you can’t help but root for her. Like Christ, she has a sacrifice to make to save the world, and as much as she’d like to give it up, she also knows that she plays a critical role in the survival of mankind. The other characters were well-rounded as well, and Father Chris is sure to be a favorite of many reading the book. It begins as largely his story, but transitions to focus on Elise and her struggles.
There is also plenty of danger and action in the novel. A being they refer to as the Other, the opposite of Remiel, seeks to destroy Elise. Somehow, it always knows where to find her, and it shows no mercy, tearing down whomever it needs to in order to get to her.
What I enjoyed most about this book is how entrenched it is in Catholicism and how much I learned about religion without it ever feeling preachy. As a non-Catholic, I love getting glimpses into the workings of the Church and its theology. We also get a great literary tour of the Vatican City, making me long to visit it in real life. Fans of books like The Da Vinci Code, and Angelology will most likely also enjoy the theology mixed with adventure and action at play here. And it’s written much better than The Da Vinci Code.
My only real issue with the book has nothing to do with the story, but more with the publisher. I reviewed a finished copy, and counted at least seven or eight grammatical errors and typos (periods missing from the ends of sentences, using “they” instead of “thy” in two separate instances). Granted, that’s not much considering the book is nearly 500 pages long, but it was enough that I noticed and wished that it would have been picked over more carefully by an editor.
I’m very happy that I was approached to review this title, because I probably would have never picked it up on my own. It’s the kind of book that will stay with me long after I finish it, and I even ended up having dreams based on the story and characters, it got under my skin so much. I’m excited to see what Carrie Salo creates in her future books.