Religious fantasy is not a popular genre, but it is not an unpopular one either. There have been many different religious fantasy series that have made their marks and have left impressions in the minds of readers everywhere, some of the more popular ones including The Left Behind series by Tim F. LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, and even a young adult series Penryn & the End of Days by Susan Ee. Books such as these are a great way of teaching the Word to young and old who are becoming more and more skeptical about religion; however, the first book in a new religious fantasy series by Harry Aderton may not be the best book for every religious reader.
Upon first look, Heaven’s Night seems like an epic and fascinating read: Lucifer has fallen from God’s grace and is now challenging the throne of the Almighty. A war between angels and fallen angels ensues so that Lucifer may claim God’s power as his own. However, an archangel named Sariel stands between the demon and his goal and will do whatever it takes to defend the throne of the One he serves. Not many religious writers have focused on the war between angels and demons before Adam and Eve were created, so this story would more than likely catch the interest of those who are curious. Not to mention, the cover artwork is beautifully done and will definitely catch a reader’s eye. However, it is the content of the story that may or may not be a reader’s cup of tea.
For the intriguing parts of the story, Aderton did a lot of research on angels and the different spheres/ levels of Heaven and Hell before writing his book while also focusing on the idea of reincarnation. All of these features were also mentioned in Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come and Matheson mentioned at the beginning of his book that he did a lot of the same research before writing. It is fascinating because both authors wrote very similarly about the spheres and reincarnation and their books were published 35 years apart (What Dreams May Come published in 1978 and Heaven’s Night published in 2013). Aderton even included a chart of “The Three Planes of Creation” before the first chapter which includes the Causal Plane, the Astral Plane, and the Physical Plane. It would have been beneficial if Aderton had also included a chart showing the different classes of angels.
Now, onto the less intriguing parts. To start with, Aderton wrote in the first person and it is obvious he wanted to make the readers feel more emotion while Sariel was losing faith and finding his way back and struggling with his inner emotions throughout the book’s entirety. It would have read much better if it was written in the third person so then readers could get a better grasp of what was going on in the angelic war as a whole rather than just focusing on one angel.
Speaking of Sariel, he was an interesting character. His character development was done well, with him struggling to understand what he truly believed and his faith being shaken because that is what many people struggle with when finding a religion or sticking to a religion. However, he was whiney and seemed to have a one track mind throughout most of the book. He only became involved in the war because his soul mate, Requel, ended up getting herself kidnapped by fallen angels and Sariel just had to go rescue her. He was, however, too late and ended up losing her so for the first half of the book, he is too busy sulking over his lost love. When he finds out he could find her because her soul was put into a body on the Physical Plane, he goes to see Lucifer so that he may go to the Physical Plane and find her himself.
Here was where another strange, somewhat bothersome event occurred: Aderton mixed creation stories of humankind. There are multiple creation stories in the world and everyone believes at least one of them. Aderton chose to mix the Christian creation story of Adam and Eve being the first humans on Earth with the evolution creation story of humans evolving from apes. This was a very weird combination and took up a large portion of the book, taking a turn away from the story of the war and focusing on the relationship between Sariel and Requel. It seemed random and pointless and really took away from the story.
Aderton’s writing itself was not the best. This is his first book and, unfortunately, his writing showed it in a bad light. His sentences did not flow very well with his selection of words, it read as someone trying to write for the first time, and the editing was poor in places with many of the sentences throughout missing one or two words. Aderton does plan on writing multiple sequels to Heaven’s Night and it will more than likely take readers throughout many, if not all, of the Biblical stories. Hopefully, Aderton will work on word choice in future novels. Heaven’s Night is worth a read, but it is up to the readers to decide whether or not it will leave an impression on the minds of readers everywhere as its religious fantasy predecessors have.
Originally published at www.examiner.com on January 21, 2015.