Oracle of Philadelphia
Author: Elizabeth Corrigan
Reviewer: Gikany and Una
What We’re Talking About:
Sometimes you come across a true gem without realizing it. By pure happenstance Oracle of Philadelphia came to our attention. Gikany and Una selected it because it sounded interesting, but we were unsure about it: we were not familiar with the author and had no expectations. Even if we had had some, they would have been blown away. This is one of our top picks of 2014!
It is difficult to describe everything that makes this novel work. The mythology is intricate and well written. We have demons, the fallen angels who run around causing their particular specialty of havoc. Bedlam, Carrie’s “demon” best friend and the former Angel of Chaos, excels at causing confusion and throwing things out of balance (sometimes without even realizing it). There are also the favored, those angels still in the employ of the one true God. Gabriel, Carrie’s best “angel” friend, is the Angel of Joy. He is compelled to offer aid and assistance, even when it comes with a price. There are also angels who battle the demons to send them back to hell when they are caught transgressing. It is extremely fascinating.
Carrie is neither angel nor demon. The mystery of who Carrie is and what happened to her were woven gently and tantalizingly throughout the novel. When her true identity is revealed, we were stunned and amazed. Carrie’s personality and the millenniums that she has lived through could have caused her to become callous: to keep to herself, and to plug along, day after day. Luckily for her, between the beloved insanity that is Bedlam, and the searing joy and beauty that are Gabriel, she finds the courage to continue. When confronted by a man so pure, he sold his soul and yet remains true and untainted, she is overcome. Carrie feels called to help because she cannot allow herself not to intercede on his behalf.
Another aspect that impressed us is the author’s masterful use of flashbacks. In most novels, flashbacks are best when seldom used, otherwise it is far too easy for the reader to be lost. That is not the case in Oracle of Philadelphia. Not only are flashbacks used extensively, they are done in different ways, expertly conveying character backgrounds, important past experiences, and giving foundations to the intricately woven fabric of the mythology. Through these flashbacks we learn not only about Carrie, but also about the other main characters: Bedlam, Gabriel, and Michael (the archangel who seems to despise Carrie). What is so grippingly engaging is the way Ms. Corrigan uses stories from the bible and to give us a “first-person accounting”, dispelling the elaborations and modifications to these stories that emerged from being retold for millennia. Both Gikany and Una have different religious backgrounds and yet we both found these biblical retellings to be fascinating, thought-provoking and at times humorous. The pathos created by these stories (as they are all moments from Carrie’s life) build to the moment at the end when the novel reaches its peak and we learn if Sebastian will be saved and, surprisingly, who Carrie is.
Not all of the plot arcs are resolved in Oracle of Philadelphia, but we were still incredibly satisfied with the ending. The main question of whether Carrie can intervene on Sebastian’s behalf is resolved – and there are twists on that one. Ms. Corrigan expertly introduced us to these other plot arcs that we can only assume continue in the next offering of her Earthbound Angels series. We were enchanted by Bedlam and in love with Gabriel. Although we see more of Bedlam in the novel, both supporting characters are integral to the story. There is so much more to both of them and we eagerly look forward to seeing their story arcs continue. We will say that a common theme is unrequited love – for varying reasons. This theme is powerful and it affects different characters in varied ways. We are confronted with the conundrum of how they could possibly be resolved, hoping for a happy ending and yet realistically knowing that there is no simple answer, and that, sometimes, the heart is denied.
Oracle of Philadelphia is a powerful debut novel in the Earthbound Angels series. This is a novel with definite re-reading potential. We think there is much that we may have missed since we were blindsided by the ending. As we were researching for this review, we discovered that he second novel, Raising Chaos, is available already. Needless to say, we have purchased it and will be happy to post our review when we complete it. If you want something different, thought provoking, emotionally charged, character driven, do NOT hesitate, and pick up Oracle of Philadelphia!
Rating: A+ Personal Favorite
About the Book:
Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can’t solve.
Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister’s life, but his heart remains pure.
Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it.
In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul.
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Series: Earthbound Angels #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Paperback (222 pages), e-book
Book Source: Author/Publisher
Oracle of Philadelphia (Earthbound Angels #1)