Book Review: The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
5/5 stars – loved it!
Sometimes a book is written so enchantingly that it draws you in and fully immerses you in the story from the very first page. The act of reading a book like this becomes an experience in itself. I feel this way about Chris Wooding, Jeff VanderMeer, and Francesca Lia Block. There’s some kind of magical quality to the prose, and it doesn’t matter if what’s going on makes perfect sense, or is explained in perfect details. The details that exist paint a perfect enough picture. It’s enough to believe in the magic of the story, of the world being set up, and like a fairy tale, you just go with it and let it sweep you away.
Reading The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff was like that. The description is lovely and visual, evoking imagery that is by turns bright and dark, sharp and dull, creepy and beautiful. The novel is mostly told through the eyes of Daphne, the half-demon and half-fallen angel daughter of Lilith and Lucifer. She lives in Pandemonium, a city in Hell marked by metal, heat and permanence. Daphne is bored, lonely, and, most of all, terrified that she will turn out like her succubus sisters who prey on the lost young men of Earth. Sitting in her apartment, she watches old movies and surrounds herself with colorful artifacts leftover from others’ past lives, wishing for something more.
The only one who seems to understand her restlessness and really listens to her is Obie, Daphne’s older brother. Despite his half-demon heritage, Obie is one of the good guys. He works on Earth, helping the half-human offspring of fallen angels. “They’re called Lost Ones, and most of them earn the title….Lost Ones are always in the process of self-destructing.” (ARC p. 15) When Obie disappears, Daphne travels to Earth to find him, even though she has no idea how her demon blood will react. There is also the constant threat of a demon-hating archangel looming over her, but Daphne can’t imagine why she would even attract his attention.
In order to find Obie, Daphne enlists the help of Truman Flynn, a Lost One who her brother had rescued from total self-destruction. Truman is a train wreck. After his mother passed, he spiraled downward at breakneck speed. Obie saved him from a suicide attempt, but Truman seems determined to finish the job. On one side of him is a shadow man who appears to him in dreams, causing him to seek out the sleep of drunken oblivion. On the other side is Daphne’s cousin Moloch, a reaper who has none of Obie’s faith and is simply trying to tidy up a lose end. Truman is chasing energy drinks with cheap liquor, trying to outrun the pain and the dreams, and pretty much failing at everything. Lucky for him, Daphne is determined and steady, unwavering in her quest to find and save her brother – and since Truman is the only one who can help her, she must find and save him, as well. When Daphne locates Truman on Earth, she picks up where Obie left off and stands between the shadow man and her cousin, making sure that Truman survives their dark influences – and his own.
Daphne and Truman embark on a journey through Chicago and Las Vegas, Heaven and Hell and everything in-between, through known and unknown spaces, both searching desperately for something and finding so much more. They discover that righteous angels can be just as treacherous as the fallen ones, and that even demons can feel grief, hope, and love.
There are many familiar names in The Space Between, but it doesn’t matter if you know them from older texts or not. They come alive as vivid characters here, flawed and feeling and real. Daphne narrates much of the book in first-person present tense, but some chapters are from Truman’s perspective, told in third-person past tense. I suppose that could be slightly disorienting for some readers but it didn’t bother me.
I was lucky enough to grab an ARC at San Diego Comic Con at the Razorbill/Penguin Teen booth, and I’m so glad I took it. I almost didn’t, because I didn’t have a ton of room in my suitcase and it wasn’t my intention to fit in a stack of free books. But I really loved it, and I hope that people who love beautifully written teen fantasy and dark fairy tales will check out The Space Between when it’s published next month.