BOOK REVIEW: Envy of Angels

EnvyofAngels

 

Title: Envy of Angels

Author: Matt Wallace

Publisher: Tor.com

Published: 20th October 2015

RRP: £8.56

 

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

When a heavenly delicacy is brought to the kitchen, newcomers Lena and Darren put their very souls on the line…

Welcome to Sin du Jour – deviled eggs never tasted so wicked!

 

When down and out chefs Lena and Darren are offered positions at Sin Du Jour with its mysterious but once famous Executive Chef Bronko Luck, they leap at the chance. However, it soon becomes apparent that Sin Du Jour is no ordinary restaurant when they’re told that the next event is catering for demons who expect to be served angel, and I don’t mean cake. When Lena takes exception to the hellish menu, Sin du Jour’s staff attempt to recreate angel flesh using earthly ingredients.

Initially, it looks like it will be almost too easy a mission for the crew of Sin du Jour, seasoned as they are in the supernatural, and unsurprisingly there is indeed far more to it than meets (or should that be “meats”? Sorry…) the eye. However, from here on in, Envy of Angels packs the surprises in thick and fast. What follows is a brilliantly black comedy of errors as Sin du Jour’s food sourcing team try to track down the flavours they need to fake angel flesh, and end up risking their lives and senses of humour in some very unexpected, often disgusting, yet frequently hilarious ways. The main ingredients here are twisted fun and inventive horror with a side of fairy tales, served on a bed of Grimm.

Wallace also has an indecent amount of fun playing with ideas around Christian mythology, giving us the sense that there is a much wider context to be had beyond the traditional tropes of Good vs Evil. It’s a little bit like if Good Omens and the Great British Bake Off accidentally got chucked into the mixer together, only here the judges are demons who will kill and possibly devour our chefs if they believe they’re being served anything less than a literally divine dish. We’re pretty sure that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood don’t do anything like that to their unsuccessful contestants.

If there is a weak link in Envy of Angels, it’s Darren. Where Lena is a talented chef and natural leader who thinks for herself, Darren is often carried by her professionally and tends to follow the herd, to the extent that you (and sometimes she) wonder why she keeps him around. That being said, Lena more than makes up for Darren, being exactly the kind of ballsy badass you’d trust to get away with hoodwinking demons. Bronko himself has a distinctly diamond geezerish charm which makes it believable that as well as retaining his staff he can inspire them to get back up from repeated heart attacks or loss of limb and step into the unknown just to do their jobs. My absolute favourite character is taster Boosha, whose fixation on naughty language makes me fairly certain she may be related to Captain America. These are in short, exactly the kind of people you’d want to treat to a round in the pub.

Envy of Angels is a canapé of gourmetdark comedy which will leave you wanting more – and as such, I’m delighted to see that a sequel has been confirmed. Have your (angel) cake and eat it when this delightful culinary fantasy hits bookshelves near you on 20th October, although be warned, you may never look at a chicken the same way again.

GS Rating: 4/5
GS Blogger: Michaela Gray (@bookiesnacksize)

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