Conspiracy of Angels by Michelle Belanger
Titan Books (October 2015)
368 pages; $7.43 paperback; ebook $7.99
Reviewed by Peter Tomas
Zachary Westland is your average amnesiac protagonist, waking up on the shores of Lake Erie with panic in his nerves and a police notice out for his head. Unable to remember his past, he searches frantically for a way to reconnect to everything he can’t remember, encountering a throng of unique and diverse characters as he goes. Many people know him, know of him, and in most cases, want him dead, and he’s clueless as to why. Eventually, he learns that his past is as dark as the looming future is, and that if he doesn’t step up and right his forgotten wrongs, the people he cares about most could suffer vast and painful consequences. The fight for resolution, and his memory, begins.
Throughout Conspiracy of Angels, I found myself enjoying the gritty, realistic descriptions of each location which the characters passed through, as well as their individual personalities. Each character brought their own insight, as well as oftentimes brutal honesty, to the table, and helped to lighten and spice up the mood of a story which would have, otherwise, been very easy to receive as pessimistic and dire. The characterization was done incredibly well, and even during some of the most tense scenes in the story, I found myself giggling at the occasional well-placed quip. There were also a few instances which contained subtle mentions of religious topics, the majority of which were insightful, creative, and original.
However, the novel had a few downsides that, while not earth-shatteringly drastic and inhibiting, could be considered minor inconveniences. Throughout the first one hundred or so pages of the novel, Zachary, being an amnesiac in a first person story, was the reader’s only tether to understanding what was actually transpiring in terms of the plot. Due to his amnesia and our reliance on his knowledge, this circumstance led to some rather frustrating miscommunication during important events. In some cases, I was even forced to go back and re-read certain passages to try to better understand why Zack had just shouted his own name several times in the middle of a bloody battlefield. Eventually, all is revealed to the reader, but it takes almost the entire book to do so. By the end, there are still some loose ends which are left frayed and untied, as well as gaps in the history and in the motivations of some of the characters.
Conspiracy of Angels, however, was a very well done edge-of-the-seat thriller which kept me up late at night. The story packs itself up as a tight, well-crafted, enjoyable read which was lighthearted, serious when it needed to be, and plenty of fun.