Before getting into this review, I should provide a disclaimer. The version of A Flight in the Heavens that I read was a yet to be finalised proof, and subject to change. While any changes would likely focus on formatting issues and typos—of which there were very few; less than most independent books at the time of publishing—it is entirely possible that something touched upon in this review will be different.
While I tend to avoid leaving authors out of reviews (it’s the art that I am reviewing, not the artist), when Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr reached out to me about writing a review for The Theurgy of the Gods: A Flight in the Heavens (of which I will simply refer to by the shorter title, A Flight in the Heavens from here on out), I was struck by her energy. I hoped that some of this energy would make its way into the book. From the outset, before chapter one, there is a great brief note about how the novel is written in Canadian English, which brings this personality to the fore, and I hope it makes it into the final version. Moving into chapter one, I was not disappointed: Cagne-Cyr’s energy is throughout the book, providing an author voice that brings a freewheeling attitude to the novel, from start to finish.
Cagne-Cyr’s prose is imbued with wit, warmth and energy, and when the novel calls for it, absolute beauty. At 525 pages for the paperback (Kindle is not yet providing an estimate for the number of eBook pages), it is not exactly a brief read, but it feels light with short, sharp sentences and paragraphs, which keep the momentum bouncing around nicely. I plowed through this in two sittings, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
Taking place in the world of Iscar, A Flight in the Heavens is a fantasy tale with steampunk and science fiction trappings. It also features LGBTQI+ lead characters and situations. If same-sex attraction and relationships are a turn-off for you, and prevent you from enjoying a story, let me say right now that it is your loss: This mentality will keep you away from an excellent read. The characters’ sexuality in this book is handled matter-of-factly; something entirely normal, and this is exactly how it should be.
The above is the last I will say about same sex attraction, but I will discuss the relationships in the book. Each character is well-rounded with a distinctive voice; each of them feeling like real people thrown into this situation. The lead character, Farrah, is a renegade revolutionary fighting for a better Iscar. She crosses paths with sky pirate Feras, who quickly becomes this tale’s second lead. Both characters are written beautifully, and their relationship with each other, as well as their relationships with the other characters, are beautifully formed.
I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to comment on, but as is the way with many fantasy stories, characters in A Flight of the Heavens die. Each and every death is expertly handled, making you feel for the character lost, as well as for the characters who lost somebody close to them. The author does an admirable job of balancing the need to keep the story moving without dwelling on these deaths, with the need to make you feel for the characters. It’s a difficult balance, but Gagne-Cyr manages it with aplomb.
Earlier in the review, I mentioned the freewheeling nature of Gagne-Cyr’s prose. I love interesting prose, and brings an attitude and sense of fun to the book, elevating it above many similar books. The attitude present in the writing does nothing to undercut the seriousness of the novel and the situations these characters find themselves in, including those deaths I mentioned a little earlier.
The narrative quickly introduces the characters, before embarking on its journey. The pacing is great, and the threat of enemies and the mystery of the titular Theurgy of the Gods build nicely throughout the book, until it reaches its rollicking conclusion.
It would be disingenuous to call A Flight in the Heavens a standalone book. It is the first part of a duology, and from this standpoint, there is definitely more to come from the story. It does still manage to be a satisfying read on its own, wrapping up the first half of Farrah and co’s journey, while promising much more to come.If you’re a fan of fantasy, or simply enjoy fun reads, I heartily recommend A Flight in the Heavens, and am finding myself awaiting the second tome of The Theurgy of the Gods.
Slay had witnessed everything from his place of hiding. While his brain had been trying to make sense of what was happening, three people had escaped the cloud of smoke.
Holy fuck! It’s Farrah and the others!A Flight in the Heavens, Chapter 3
The Theurgy of the Gods: A Flight in the Heavens was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
A Flight in the Heavens will be available in paperback and eBook forms from book retailers exclusively to Amazon) on 21 June 2021.
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