Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock

Series: Los Nefilim #4 Rating: 5/5
Date of Publishing: February 19th 2019 Genre: historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Voyager Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 368 Author’s website: https://www.tfrohock.com/

Quote of the Book

I chose this quote, which has Diago lost in a memory/vision/nightmare because of the sparseness of the words and the impact of their choices…

“The angel’s sigil over his heart blazes so cold it burns. The pain brings sweat to his scalp and dampens his hair. He somehow remains on his feet. But not for long… I cannot endure this.

In the courtyard, the soldiers finish loading their wagon and push toward the gate. A corpse’s arm slips from beneath the tarp. A silver disk falls from the hand. It is a brooch. The twin to the one he wears.

The door to his room slams open. A soldier strides across the floor, kicking debris out of his way. A box ricochets off the wall and splinters in two: the lid flying one direction, the body in another. The mirror it once contained is already broken, a million little shards of light, spinning through the air.
“What have you done?” The man is hoarse with rage. With a powerful hand, he grabs the back of Diago’s neck, startling him deeper into his terror. The sigil flares across his chest. He lifts his hand. The blood he smells is his own.
Then the world flushes white in a burst of agony. Now I can die.”

Blurb

"Frohock has intricately woven a unique reinterpretation of history. Eloquent prose accompanies a lyrical theme amid prewar tensions, enriching this imaginative historical fantasy." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

A lyrical historical fantasy adventure, set in 1932 Spain and Germany, that brings to life the world of the novellas collected in Los Nefilim: Spanish Nephilim battling daimons in a supernatural war to save humankind.

Born of daimon and angel, Diago Alvarez is a being unlike all others. The embodiment of dark and light, he has witnessed the good and the horror of this world and those beyond. In the supernatural war between angels and daimons that will determine humankind’s future, Diago has chosen Los Nefilim, the sons and daughters of angels who possess the power to harness music and light.

As the forces of evil gather, Diago must locate the Key, the special chord that will unite the nefilim’s voices, giving them the power to avert the coming civil war between the Republicans and Franco’s Nationalists. Finding the Key will save Spain from plunging into darkness.

And for Diago, it will resurrect the anguish caused by a tragedy he experienced in a past life.

But someone—or something—is determined to stop Diago in his quest and will use his history to destroy him and the nefilim. Hearing his stolen Stradivarius played through the night, Diago is tormented by nightmares about his past life. Each incarnation strengthens the ties shared by the nefilim, whether those bonds are of love or hate . . . or even betrayal.

To retrieve the violin, Diago must journey into enemy territory . . . and face an old nemesis and a fallen angel bent on revenge.

Personal notes

I would like to thank the author Teresa Frohock, for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book and Mihir (over at Fantasy Book Critic) for bringing it to my attention on twitter.

Song of the Book

There are a few pieces of music mentioned in this story and as my mom was a violinist, I probably would have recognized them if I heard them, but being this is Rockstarlit I decided to comb through my music for something more appropriate to the blog. Unfortunately, the lyrics of my other choices didn’t quite fit the feel of the story. So, I settled on Apocalyptica’s Romance. The cellos aren’t quite the same to what I had in my head, but I love the heavy haunting feel of this song and it was one of the first to come to mind when I decided to go for a straight instrumental.

Review

Some books just click and this was one of those times. It wasn’t even that there is much in the way of my bullet-proof likes either – Angels are not an auto buy for me, and historical fantasy is probably closer to an auto-skip. But there was something about this story that resonated (a little pun intended) and part way through I knew I was going to have to go back and read the rest of the series, as soon as my schedule allowed.

Now a member of the Los Nefilim, Diago’s work on the key is being hampered to the point he can no longer ignore it. His instrument, a Stradivarius (violin) is being used against him like a weapon in a type of psychic attack. Suffering from crippling hallucinations and what is essentially the equivalent of PTSD, he sets out to locate the source and retrieve his Violin.

***

The magic is music based, shaping tones and sound to create sigils/glyphs. It’s accessible and you don’t need to be a music prodigy to understand it. I loved the use and how music, combined with the setting, with Hitler on the rise and Spain on the verge of civil war, gave the story a very unsettled, haunting quality that heightened the sense of danger.

The characters – I’m a of a sucker for those outsider type characters – the ones that feel like they are walking a tight rope in their head trying to do the right thing. That they only really need someone to believe in them for them to believe in themselves. Diago feels a bit like that kind of character to me. He’s found redemption and a family and will do anything to protect it.

To back Diago up – there are people who love, trust and support him but who also occasionally have real fears and doubts that he wont trust himself enough to be the person they know he is.

Villains – IMO, some of the best villains are the ones that have a past with the main character. A little history goes a long way and, in this case, Diago’s shared history in his past incarnation adds a deeper layer making not only the relationships between all the characters more complicated, but also making this more than just a grasp for power story.

The reincarnations/memories – I tended to think of these as something like the reincarnated version of the Highlander tv show where McLeod would have a history with a person and we’d get glimpses of characters past together to set up the back story/relationship.

“Watch for Me”

I don’t usually even comment much on the writing in a review unless it stands out. But nothing says better what kind of writing to expect than that phrase – which honestly gave me a little thrill every time it came up.

Used like goodbye, it’s double meaning with the reincarnations, also serves as a reminder of how dangerous their lives are. That the next time they may see one another is in a future incarnation.

I really liked the punch that it added and I think it’s a perfect example to use here to show the thought that was given to the writing in every part of this story – from the word choices, to the setting, the music, the characters, and the past lives. The writing alone could have felt almost stark but the combined elements assist in bringing the world alive through all of our senses. For me this was the distinction that made this an outstanding read.

I would have given this book six stars if GoodReads would have let me. Well worth checking out and quite easy to jump in at this point. But, I can guarantee if you’re like me, you’ll want to go back and catch this series from the start.

This review was written by Jennifer (BunnyReads)

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