Halo of the Damned
Dina Rae

Eternal Press (Damnation Books)
256 pages, Paperback, Digital
Review by Darkeva

Armaros is one of Satan’s Fallen minions. He deceived God, and wants to try his luck with Satan, his ultimate goal being to surpass even the Devil in power and followers. But it’s not that easy to get one over on him, as Armaros soon finds out. No matter how wily and cunning a fallen angel he considers himself, he’s still got a lot to learn when compared to his master. Hell is severely disappointed with him, and threatens Armaros’ position. Although this greatly worries Armaros, he’s also obsessed with gaining not just followers, but worshippers – people who kiss the ground he walks on – and he has plenty to choose from as he is one of the favorites in a branch of angel worshippers known as Yezidism.

I thought this was one of the more creative points of the book, as although there are people said to be obsessed with angels, or who pray to them, genuinely believing they’re real, these folks are a bit more literal, and actually summon angels to ceremonies, only they prefer the fallen kind rather than the holy ones. In this respect, Halo of the Damned reminded me of another recent angel thriller, Angelology by Danielle Trussoni, in terms of the Da Vinci Code type of elements – buried secrets being uncovered, leading double lives, high octane action and thrills, etc.

Years ago, Satan assigned Armaros to stay on Earth and start up an advertising agency, which one could argue is definitely a form of evil as it involves trying to influence (and in some cases control) people’s thoughts, implanting desires for unnecessary things into people’s heads, deceitfulness, untrue claims, etc. And to his credit, Armaros is great at what he does, except on Earth, he goes by Andel. Although a great premise, which ends up being a great cover for furthering the fallen angel’s plans, the name of his agency – The Evil Empire – struck me as a tad obvious, and could have been improved.

The second prominent character emerges as Joanna Easterhouse, a druggie recently released from prison whose mother has recently died in a car crash. Joanna stays with her more responsible and wholesome sister, Kim, who has a daughter. Freshly sprung from jail, Joanna is desperate to prove that she’s responsible and can land on her feet again. In an AA meeting, she encounters Juliet, one of Armaros’ employees, who recruits her for a job at his agency. Although Joanna seems to be completely unconnected to Armaros and his secret world of murders, backstabbing, and worshippers, she inevitably gets sucked in along with the rest of her family and learns that her mother’s death may not have been so accidental, and that Mommy Dearest was hiding some pretty key information from her daughters about the fallen ones.

Soon, the remaining Easterhouse sisters become the targets of the Yezidim, and get tangled up with their mom’s ex-lover, a lawyer who hires a private investigator to look into a painter that the mother, Lydia, used to know, and from there, things spiral out of control for both of them. Everything is revealed in due time, and although the big reveals are to be expected, it’s still enjoyable to see how we get there.

The ending, although largely good, ends on a note that feels like there are pages missing from the book, and it’s not a happy occasion, or rather shouldn’t be, considering all that we’ve read about, and yet it’s portrayed as such, which confused me a tad. It’s a decent novel with many thriller elements mixed in with the horror, and it’s a fun read. If you can’t get enough of books like Angelology and want more stories that explore fallen angels gone awry, Halo of the Damned is worth a gander.

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