96 points, 5 STARS!
Warning: Topics of Nonconsent
Three brilliant novellas. One fantastic story.
Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas—In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.
Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.
Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.
I have no idea how anyone could have read the novellas without needing more at the end of each one. I read this as the omnibus, and I’m so glad I didn’t have to read them one at a time, because I would have lost my mind. I was already tripping over my own eyes trying to read more and more, faster and faster. I couldn’t put this down at all.
I put off reading Los Nefilim for a while, because I was uncertain I would like it. This is set in the 1930s in Spain, and I’m unfairly biased against historical stories. Which, in my case means anything prior to 2000. I live in the now, I like the now, I want to read about the now. However, in the last year I’ve expanded what it is that I am willing to read, and Los Nefilim finally came under that banner.
I’m so glad it did.
This collection of novellas is an amazing work of urban fantasy. If you think that all urban fantasy is the same, please read this. If you think all urban fantasy is about an angry main character who goes off fighting people and looking for some murderer while getting attacked themselves, read this. If you think urban fantasy is too popcorn fantasy, read this. Because Los Nefilim is none of these things and it is a shining example of urban fantasy outside the norms set by the genre. I want more of this kind of urban fantasy at all costs.
The world of Los Nefilim is amazing. Something I’ve always lamented is the lack of angels in urban fantasy. Okay, they’re there, but they are typically shadows of what they should be. Not so with Los Nefilim. This is everything I want out of an angel vs. demon story. Add in the nephilim, and I’m intrigued to pieces. At every step of the journey throughout this collection, I kept saying “oh really, tell me more!” about the world and how it was set up. I loved the way it slowly revealed itself to us through the eyes of someone who has seen it all before and it isn’t a surprise to him, just the readers. The fact that they use sound/music to work their magic is all the better for this story.
With each novella, the story gets better and better. The first novella introduces the characters and the world while living through a very high stakes event. Then the second and third novella deal with the consequences of that event in their own ways. And the stakes keep getting higher as time goes on. It becomes clear that this is a world in turmoil, mirroring the mortal world at the time (or is that the mortal world mirroring the world of angels and demons?). And when the players are angels and demons who have supreme powers, the stakes are high and the danger is higher. It is so much fun.
I love Diago. He is flawed as a person but in his flaws you can find his perfection as a character. He is trapped in between two worlds, never quite trusted by most. Yet he has Miquel. The relationship is adorable, even in the face of the danger and hardships lived within these pages. They aren’t the perfect couple, just like Diago isn’t the perfect person. Even though they are nephilim, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still, in part, human.
One thing that I have always lamented the lack of in urban fantasy was the lack of children. Urban fantasy to me has always been about living life with the paranormal, and part of life is children and family. Therefore, it should come to no shock that I love Los Nefilim so much in part because there are actual children in it! I loved Rafael so much. In the first novella, he only just comes to Diago, and not under the best circumstances. It is everything in the second and third novellas that I adore. Not only does Diago and Miquel have to learn to be parents, Rafael has to learn how to be their son. I love this so much. I love that for once all my desires for this have been addressed. I love how the home life vs. the dangerous world are combined. I love this collection for this part of the story alone, though the rest is also amazing.
Los Nefilim was honestly everything I’ve been looking for in an urban fantasy for the past three years. It hit many of the boxes I’ve been looking for and assuaged some of my restlessness when it comes to reading. I’m so, so glad I finally read this collection.