Gelethel is a paradise, a city within protective ice walls ruled by fourteen angels whose benisons provide everything the citizens need, but no paradise can ever really be free of darkness. No citizen is allowed to leave, war refugees starve outside the walls in Cherubtown, and the angels glut themselves on human sacrifices provided by the pilgrims petitioning for citizenship. Ishtu is the daughter of the pilgrim that brought cinema to Gelethel and the Garbage Queen of Gelethel, and the secret saint of the weakest angel, Alizar. Her life consists of running the only cinema in the city and having secrets chats with her extravagant, vain angel until a pilgrim’s sacrifice proves to be the sign Alizar has been waiting for. This is the story of the meek inheriting the city, of the powerful learning that what is given freely is always stronger than what is taken, and the value of bad uncles. Cooney’s prose is delicious and her writing reminds me in the best ways of Terry Pratchett. Fun, easy to read, and still manages to stab you in the heart. Highly recommended!
The Twice-Drowned Saint by C. S. E. Cooney, (List Price: 15.95, Mythic Delirium Books, 9781732644090, February 2023)
Reviewed by Kelly McLeod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama