Debuting author, Theresa Sneed, chose an ambitious project for her first novel, a spiritual fantasy titled No Angel, and I’m pleased to report that it delights on many levels.
Sneed’s No Angel opens in a heavenly realm, moves into mortality where good and evil spirits impact humans, and then she thrusts her readers into a frightening underworld where even good spirits can become trapped through error. Each world is filled with complex characters and governed by strict rules—rules Sneed’s main character, a reluctant Guardian Angel named Jonathan Stewart, hasn’t bothered reading.
Jonathan was sorely disappointed by his own mortality and in an effort to make this second earth experience, (required by all post-mortal spirits), quick and painless, Jonathan selects an EMD client, Early Marked for Death, knowing his client will die young, allowing him to complete his assignment early and quickly exit earth once and for all.
What Jonathan failed to learn from that unread handbook is that special conditions surround the exceptional spirits assigned to be EMDs—their goodness makes them prized targets of the dark spirits.
Jonathan’s poor attitude is a disappointment to the more dedicated Guardians, but more importantly, it also places him in the cross-hairs of dark spirits who pose a threat to his successful completion of his mission, and to Faith, the child, he has been sent to guard.
But Jonathan has two allies, a loyal Guardian Angel named Grace, who takes a special interest in him, and Celeste Knight, the premortal spirit of Faith. Their interest in Jonathan is not accidental.
Sneed does a wonderful job of fleshing out heaven and the underworld with rich, vivid description that drives the theme of good versus evil deep into the reader. Still, the book is not dark and eerie. Sneed successfully slingshots between humor and drama during Jonathan’s bumpy, spiritual evolution, providing a change of pace that makes this book suitable for YA as well as adults, while also endearing this disgruntled soul to the reader. Without those humorous passages, No Angel would have been a dark, eerie tale. And though that was not Sneed’s purpose in writing this book, she proves she has the talent to go that direction if she ever chooses.
The explanations of the rules of each world slow the read in places, but they are essential to the ensuing tension, and there is plenty of tension, which intensifies until the conclusion, which leaves the reader unsure about the outcome of many of the characters until the very end.
NO ANGEL is fiction, but its powerful themes of good versus evil, spiritual promptings, choice and accountability, family, friendship, and loyalty, make it a valuable springboard for family discussions on these topics, and therefore makes this book one to be read together as a family, and worth having in a family library.
This is a first-rate read that quickly earned Theresa Sneed a Whitney Award nomination. Sneed is a talented writer who should find No Angel a contender for Whitney’s “Best Novel by a New Author” award. She is already completing a second project, proving that great things are ahead for her, and those who pick up her imaginative, tender books.
NO ANGEL is available LDS bookstores, at Barnes and Nobles, and on Amazon.