There are two things to note about this book before I start my review. 1. This was originally Supernatural fanfiction. 2. Many of the details from the fanfiction remain in this version. The reason these things are important is because, had I read this as a fanfiction, I might have forgiven more things from it. However, this is supposed to be an original work of fiction, so I’m going to review it as such.
The story follow Israfel, a twenty-nine year old priest who fancies Nate, a seventeen year old boy from his church. The age gap is very clear in the text. I may have gone into this book a bit biased having seen the movie Spotlight all about the awful things priests have done to underage boys that have been covered up by the Catholic church. But I’ve been reading a lot of books with taboo subjects, so I decided to give this a try.
I have to say, I had my issues with the relationship between Israfel and Nate. It’s stated that the age of consent in the state it’s set is seventeen, but it never failed to be weird. Nate acted confidently, and everything that happened between them was consensual, but Israfel’s behavior often rubbed me the wrong way. Israfel was quick to blame Nate for everything they did, telling him he’d corrupted him. Israfel tried to argue that even if he’d wanted to, he couldn’t have stopped Nate from doing what he did with him. This bothered me so much because this is clear behavior you’d find in cases of molestation. I’m not saying that’s what was happening here, but that’s why it made me uncomfortable.
Putting that aside, I was really moved by Israfel’s revelation. Israfel started off hating himself for being gay, wanting nothing but to remove that part of him. Israfel gave himself over to the priesthood to rid himself of all temptation, until he realized he couldn’t stop being gay–obviously. I liked seeing his growth throughout as his thoughts changed on the matter. I was rooting for his growth, but I was still iffy about the relationship.
In the end, I was entertained with this book. I’m not sure I got anything out of it, though. I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for years and I never felt brave enough to read it, so I’m glad I finally did. I would like to mention trigger warnings for severe homophobia. It was giving me a headache. There were so many bigoted characters. It’s definitely not a perfect book. It actually could do with some editing. But I didn’t hate it, so there’s that.