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Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Stations of the Angels by Raymond St. Elmo review



Official Author Website
Buy The Stations of the Angels HERE(USA) or HERE(UK)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Quest of the Five Clans series


Author information: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.

Format: The Station of The Angels was self-published by the author on January 27, 2017 and is available through Kindle Unlimited and in ebook and paperback formats. It counts 242 pages. 


When I was fourteen my family moved into a burning house. The movers complained of the smoke but we handed out masks, opened windows and set up fans to keep the conflagration towards the back. Mom organized us kids in a bucket-line to splash water into the kitchen so they could start unloading the silver-ware and china plates. We took it for a game, drenching each other more than the flames.



This opening line sets the tone of the book well. If you're looking for a serious, realistic book about serious people changing history, look elsewhere. If, however, you're looking for a fun, light and beautifully written novel, look no more. It's here. It's filled with quotable sentences, crazy ideas, magical images and teenagers discovering life. Probably not in the way we did or will in the future.



Angelica is a small town near Austin that was founded around 1890 by rebel theology students seeking to construct a utopian community based on Platonic ideals. They sort of succeeded. If you took a guide he would guide you through impossible houses that


are stations of the Angels; immutable, indestructible, yet eternally in motion, cycling through annihilation and rebirth. Each house is a separate ideal perceived only through the dark glass of metaphor, entered through the staid door of everyday life. Fire and water, earth and air, laughter and sorrow, blood and bone are at once the elementary building blocks of reality, and yet mere shadows cast by a secret Angelica that floats above Texas. A higher Angelica hides in the daily sky of cloud and sun and star, more real than the earth beneath.

The story follows a group of teenagers who live in such houses. Each house can be treated as a physically realized metaphor. We start in the House of Fire that's permanently ablaze. Soon we move to House of the Lion, in which a reclusive lion lives. To the House of Blades spiked with edged and dangerous surfaces. To the House of Ghosts that is haunted. There's more of them in Angelica. Take a tour and learn about them.

There's a plot, obviously. It's served in a way that may be surprising to fantasy fans. It's not very linear, it doesn't lead to the final battle (to be fair, though, vampires appear near the end of the book). All surreal elements (and there's plenty of them) are told in the casual, matter-of-fact tone. Yes, obviously, there's a lion living in a house - so what? The house is ablaze and it's a fact. Some care has to be taken to the choice of furniture but it's not a bad place to live in. It's inhabitant even collects comics and cards.

There won't be any explanation of the events. You won't learn why the Lion lives in the House or why the house is ablaze. If you'll accept that it's just the way life goes on in Angelica, you'll be able to enjoy the world seen through the eyes of relatable teenagers and savor the ideas and quotes.

Some of them are brilliant, some are genuinely funny. Some insightful and brief, like this one:

He was a know-it-all who didn't know much. Not a bad guy; just fatally desperate to impress.

CONCLUSION: I enjoyed the book a lot. I have highlighted more than fifty passages on my Kindle. It's not a book I read for the plot. I read it for the pleasure of being in an impossible place described in a fun and imaginative way.


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