Reviewed by Helyce
Tao wakes up in the middle of a park with no memory of who he is. While he does know where he is and some basic survival type things like needing to find shelter and food, he can’t remember anything before waking in the park. He had a bracelet on with the word “Tao” on it which he assumes is his name and so he calls himself this. He hates that he’s forced to panhandle, but without any identification he is unable to find a job and he does have to put some money toward the place he been able to stay at.
One day, while sitting outside the coffee shop he usually parked himself at in hopes of getting enough money to get some food, he saw a man approaching the coffee shop and witnessed him getting his pocket picked. He recognized the guy who did it and promptly jumps up, bumping into him while retrieving the wallet. He then returns the wallet to the man who introduces himself as West and offers to buy Tao a coffee as a thank you.
While sitting down and enjoying the warmth of the drink and the company of an attractive man, he is overcome with a feeling of danger and his instincts tell him to run away, which he does immediately. West is shocked, especially since it appeared Tao was able to shake off the mind control which should have encouraged him to stay. This intrigues West, and thoughts of the young man who returned his wallet invade his thoughts all day.
Later that day, West heads out to look for Tao, this feeling of having to find him had lingered all day. When he does, Tao is bleeding and barely conscious, obviously having been beaten up. He gathers him up and takes him home all the while wondering what has gotten into him. The need to care for Tao and just simply be around him a feeling he cannot ignore.
I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve read from this author and this book is no exception. More so because I didn’t know she wrote in the paranormal genre. Add to that archangels and other paranormal beings and I grabbed this one up when it was offered. For me, Elsborg writes a bit outside the box and there is always a special unexpected flair to the story that one can always look forward to.
I was intrigued by an archangel who needed an assassin to do his killing. I mean, isn’t an archangel all powerful and can’t he take care of his own assassinations with a mere thought? I’m sure that is the case, but in Elsborg’s world, West is Raphael’s assassin. He is tasked with killing specific supernatural beings, instructions for which he receives via text. Recently, however, someone is screwing with him because he’ll get a text, make the kill, and then find out he was only supposed to kill one vampire, not three which was what the text had instructed. He’s assuming one of the other assassins is out to get him, but isn’t sure why.
West is in a really bad place because he works for Raphael on the side of good by getting rid of bad supernatural beings, but he’s got a shady deal going with the very evil demon Makk who has somehow convinced West to also kill for him and provided he meets a certain kill number in a certain period of time, Makk will release West’s brother, Reid, from hell. So West is living this double life when he meets Tao. West is certainly attracted to Tao, but there is someone about him that just makes him feel better, calmer, more centered and it’s a feeling that is addicting. The fact that none of his powers work on Tao makes him just that much more intriguing to West.
Since Tao woke up in the park, he’s done everything he can think of to help himself remember. He’s read books about memory loss at the library, all of which lean toward the fact that he must have experienced some sort of trauma, but that his memory should come back, maybe not all of it, but parts of it at least. He walks around the city hoping that someone will recognize him or that something in the area will make him remember, but there’s been nothing. Until the day he meets West and something strange happens. He makes a daisy appear out of nowhere. He is clueless how he did it, wasn’t really thinking about daisies, but all of a sudden it was in his hand and he begins to think that maybe he was a magician of sorts.
More things start to make themselves known once West finds Tao beaten and bloody and brings him home. West is convinced that Tao is more than what he seems when he awakens the following day and is virtually healed. While he can sort of convince himself that he may having encouraged Tao’s healing himself, his inability to mind control Tao continues to make him leery. Tao on the other hand thinks West is the answer to his prayers, not believing his luck at finally being in a safe place and finding someone who can help him figure out who he is.
This story is full of characters who are not at all what they appear to be at first glance and that made for a fantastic tale. It’s clear that Tao is more than just a human and as the clues are revealed the story effortlessly unfolds. At the same time we learn that huge, huge lies have been told and so much pain could have been avoided had those who lied been brave enough to tell the truth. Who and what Tao is was simply magical! I loved his big reveal.
Secondary characters provide just the right amount of levity and humor in an otherwise dark story. Carson is a ghost, who for whatever reason has attached himself to West and lives to annoy him at every turn. His scenes were funny and made me smile. Carson had a unique purpose and I really loved his character.
This story was a great surprise and I’m so glad that I read it.