Touched by an Angel

It’s official: angels are the new vampires. The awesome folks at Bookslut are even announcing it (based on the existence of Danielle Trussoni’s new novel Angelology), so you know it’s true. In celebration of this deeply significant cultural shift, here are some of our favorite books featuring the heavenly host.

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith
This book’s got it all—angels and vampires! In this wonderfully wry YA novel, guardian angel Zachary is demoted after he lets his charge, Miranda—who has made his duties very pleasurable, particularly at “shower time”—get turned into a vampire. Shenanigans ensue, but it’s not all fang-flashing fun and games: as funny as this book is, Smith doesn’t give her bloodsuckers a free moral pass. This is the perfect transitional novel from sharp teeth to shiny pinions.

Angels on Fire by Nancy A. Collins
Struggling artist Lucy finds a fallen angel on her roof, as one does. What we like best about this book is its unusual depiction of heaven and its servants: there’s a clockwork, steampunky vibe to the world the angel Joth inhabits before his tumble. It’s fun getting to watch him discover our world—and himself.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Angels aren’t the focus of this controversial trilogy, though an extremely memorable pair do appear in The Amber Spyglass, the final volume. But besides being a thrilling and imaginative fantasy set in a brilliantly conceived alternate world (the concept of dæmons is so ingenious that, since it didn’t exist, Pullman had to invent it), these books are about some of the biggest questions out there, and are an awesome (in the original sense) reimagining of the battle between Heaven and Hell.

Paradise Lost by John Milton
Of course, this classic version of those events is pretty awesome (let’s go revised version), too. And it’s surprisingly readable. When contemplating Paradise Lost, we always like to think about William Blake‘s classic remark from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Milton, Blake says, “was a true poet and of the Devils party without knowing it.” (For some bonus Blake, check out yesterday‘s National Poetry Month selection!)

Hellblazer by various authors, Lucifer by Mike Carey, and Preacher by Garth Ennis
Angels in comic book form! In none of these books are these your grandmomma’s angels—unless your grandma was pretty sick and twisted. However, despite being deliberately shocking, all three of these series are frequently theologically fascinating. And a lot of asses get kicked and wing feathers shed, too.

The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
In the early part of the 19th century, a young winemaker named Sobran sees an angel out in the field behind his house. Sobran and the angel, Xas, talk for a while, and eventually agree to meet every year on the same night. Through the years of Sobran’s mortal life, their bond grows. Knox’s rich prose is seductive, and the relationship between the characters is beautiful and nuanced. It’s a gorgeous and unusual love story.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Um, best angel book ever? Aziraphale—angel, oenophile, rare book dealer, and “gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide”—teams up with his demon BFF Crowley to stop the apocalypse in the form of four motorcycle-riding “horsemen” and a young antichrist named Adam who just wants to save the whales. This book is hilarious, and in general a thing of great, irrepressible joy. Read it; we have faith that you’ll feel the same.

And if you’re still not feeling fully blessed after that, here’s Oakland’s Karen reading Brian Teare‘s “The Love Poem”:

Check out the full archive here!


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