SPFBO Status: Finalist
Overview (No Spoilers):
Mysterious Ways is a murder mystery that takes place in a world where angels, demons, and humans all interact in the same realm. As a light read that’s heavily imbued with comical interactions, Mysterious Ways is highly entertaining, so long as you don’t ponder any plot holes too deeply.
The story starts off with the death of one of the Goddess’ Priestesses. A familiar suspect, Cerys, is found fleeing the scene. While Commander Isabella wants to continue pursuing leads, her boss believes that the case is closed and wants to leave it to the all-knowing and impartial Judge to decide guilt. What secrets will be revealed if Isabella follows her instincts and disobeys societal norms and the Chief’s direct orders?
Evans crafts a matriarchal society in Mysterious Ways, resulting in role reversals from that encountered by most readers. Here, men are seen as incapable of multitasking due to anger issues, so they tend to be used only for their brawn with little promise for advancement. As someone who buys into this narrative without a second thought, Isabella is extremely gullible despite being a renowned Commander. This provides ample opportunity for comedic interjections which lighten the story as a whole. That said, for Evan’s storyline to work well, the commander needs this level of naivete. You can’t help but root for Isabella, especially as everything she’s ever taken for truth is shaken to its core. As for the supporting cast, Theo and Cerys have many similarities, especially with their upbringing, but manage to keep much of their backstory secret throughout this read. I feel like the surface has only been skimmed regarding the depth of their potential, especially considering how different their paths through life have been.
The literary world itself consists of three separate planes for demons, humans, and angels. In the second plane where humans call home, demons and angels can also be found. And while trips to the demon plane by humans are rare, they are possible for the right price. The angel plane, however, has never been visited by a living human and is where the mysterious Goddess resides. Given these planes and their inhabitants, perhaps it’s not a surprise that religion is a major theme in Mysterious Ways, where the Goddess and Satan are sisters, and their other sister, Judge, acts as the neutral body weighing the accused souls to either dole out justice or declare innocence.
Another interesting concept arises as a twist on the traditional roles of angels and demons: while angels are still only able to do good, they actively delight in all personal pleasures and vices. Similarly, demons are still associated with bad things and negativity, but to such an extent that they avoid anything that could even remotely cause them happiness. These angels and demons are further delineated based on the emotion or response they cause (e.g., rage demon, havoc demon, peace angel, joy angel, etc.). The differences in cultures between the spiritual beings are easily highlighted by the demon and angel taverns which exist on the human plane.
Overall, Mysterious Ways is a quick and entertaining mystery that will lead this would-be detective to unexpected places, testing everything she’s ever known, but ultimately leading to the adventure of a lifetime.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Are there no male angels? But there are female and male demons?
- Who killed the Priestess Amadea?
- Who is killing the Queen’s taste testers? How will Cerys stay safe with such an unknown danger?
- With the Goddess now leaving this world to its own devices and Satan out of commision, who will direct or control the angels and demons?
- If the Commander is that well connected, wouldn’t she just bide her time and take out Isabella?
- Queen Imanta’s dialogue was highly entertaining, especially her continual focus on food.
- Why was Cerys so bent on revenge against Isabella? Did she personally know someone innocent that was falsely sent to hell?
Regnant: having the chief power
Hedonist: a person who is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure
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