Title: Vero Rising
Author: Laurice E. Molinari
Series: The Ether #1
Vero has always wanted to fly, and that desire has gotten him in trouble over the years. But for all his longings, it still comes as a surprise when he finds out he’s actually a guardian angel, living with a human family to learn more about humanity. Now his ordinary life can be interrupted at any time in order to pull him into training with other guardian angels-to-be in a mysterious realm called the Ether. But angels aren’t the only supernatural forces at work. Another, evil force is determined to ruin them and everything they would protect . . .
I usually avoid books that have anything to do with angels, despite my love of reading about winged people or people able to fly, because I can’t stand how messed up the theology gets in most of those stories. This is not one of them. Although I was initially leery of the concept, that quickly turned to delight as I saw how deftly faith and fantasy wove together. The theology is pretty solid, and better yet, this isn’t a story tripping over some ham-handed message. It’s a story about an unusual boy struggling to live up to a destiny weirder than any he’d imagined. I loved that Vero lives out his faith–sometimes thoughtlessly, sometimes with effort, and sometimes failing altogether–as a part of who he is. And his adventures challenge him to grow in many ways, not just in his faith.
So with that out of the way . . . I liked Vero. Things come a little too easily to him on Earth, but the complications he deals with keep him from using his abilities to their full extent (the hurdles race was particularly amusing). He really wants to do well (and show off), but at the same time, he’s got angels ready to prevent him from blowing his cover. And they get very creative with their methods. I also found it interesting that many of the challenges he surmounts during his training come as a result of his own prayers. Vero himself doesn’t seem to notice it, and his companions attribute it to him as well, but I liked how he wasn’t empowered to do anything until he’d actually prayed. In the same vein, his failures stem in subtle and obvious ways from his reliance on himself, or giving in to fear.
The other guardian angels-in-training were an interesting bunch. I was so happy to be wrong about Greer, and after Vero she’s actually the one who interests me the most. Although some of the others have surprising mortal lives, hers is the only one where her trials seem to have twisted her a bit and left her hard and bitter. So she’s an unusual force for good, to say the least. And I do hope she finds real happiness along with realizing her goal to succeed.
I loved the twist at the end. It’s such a fitting surprise as Vero discovers just who he’s been sent to help protect. And how his own assumptions and emotions nearly wrecked his chance. And the reminder that his thoughts and God’s thoughts are not the same, and as he sees just a bit from that other point of view, the sight changes him.
Also a minor note, but I adore the cover art. The feathers, the glove, the hilt of the sword . . . I’m a sucker for really nice cover art. I might’ve bought the book even if I hadn’t liked the story just to have the cover on my shelf.
Overall this is an excellent example of a story that encompasses and illustrates faith without getting lost in a message, because it’s just as focused on having fun. Although this volume wraps up some things well enough, it’s also clearly setting up for a larger story to come. I rate this book Recommended.