This is set about eight years after the previous book. It has some more action than in the previous books and most of that happens on the American continent. At first I thought that would make the book less appealing to me but I shouldn’t have worried. Keyes continues to have depth in his characters and an interesting setting.
Even though the book has more conventional fantasy plot elements than what Keyes used in the previous books, it’s very entertaining. The threat of war that will end all humankind and the defenders who first have to put aside their differences are very familiar fantasy elements but Keyes manages to make them work. He even has a quest of sorts: Adrienne is looking for her lost son.
The science users have been divided more clearly into two camps: those who rely on the angels and those who despise the angels. Adrienne de Montchevreuil has devised mighty war engines to the Russians but they work only because she has managed to harness the supernatural Malakim to power her engines. Her circle of students, among them Carl von Linné and the young tsarevna Elizavet, continue to examine the angels throughout the book.
In the other camp is Benjamin Franklin with his mechanical inventions. He also invents machines that disrupt the angels and so make the engines that rely on angels useless. He has founded a secret society, the Junto, that hunts any agents of the angels that comes to America.
Red Shoes gives us another point of view to the spirit world. The Choctaw shaman sees and interacts with the supernatural creatures from his own perspective. He also sees them all as enemies and trusts only creatures that he can create. His shadowchildren are parts of his own soul that he can make into independent creatures.
The books POV shifts again between Adrienne, Benjamin and Red Shoes. Later in the book the general of the Colonial armies becomes a POV character as well. The book has quite a lot of characters but it doesn’t feel crowded. However, there are a few elements from the very start of the book that feel underused: Voltaire returns to Ben and one of the pawns of the angels surrenders himself into to hands of the Junto. Hopefully we’ll see more of the both of them in the next book.
The angels have been dived into two clear camps: one wants to stop the humans meddling into the supernatural by killing them all. The others want to only suppress the humans’ desire for knowledge. Both sides need human agents so that they can influence the world of matter.
Unlike the other two books this one ends in a cliffhanger with lots of things left unresolved.