PUBLISHER: Red Adept Publishing
COVER DESIGNER: Streetlight Graphics
Carrie (one of her many names) owns a diner in Philadelphia that she deliberately keeps low on customers. After all, as a mind-reader, crowds make her nervous. She has a fallen angel, Bedlam, for a roommate and best friend, and a crush on a do-gooder angel, Gabriel. Millennia ago, a run-in with Lucifer gave her both immortality and banishment from heaven. She’s lived on Earth ever since, serving as Oracle for both human and angel-kind, and dodging the vengeful angel Michael.
One day, a young man named Sebastian enters the diner asking for the Oracle. Carrie keeps a “decoy psychic” named Madame Zarita in one the diner booths, so she sends Sebastian to her. But the man captures Carrie attention because his soul is perfectly pure. She is bowled over by his “blinding goodness,” unusual for someone who has sold his soul to a demon.
In her centuries on Earth, Carrie has never helped humans who’ve cut deals with demons. But Sebastian is different. He’s incorruptible, even though he knows that he’s doomed. So Carrie sets off on a quest to save his soul. But she’s not only fighting for Sebastian, but also for herself. Will she have to pay the ultimate price to prove that a single human soul is worth saving?
Like most oracles, Carrie doesn’t actually do very much. She listens to tales of woe and gives guidance based on what she can glean from minds and souls. Thus, as a hero of an urban fantasy, she’s less an ass-kicker and more a survivor. Some readers might find this disappointing. (That’s Michael’s flaming sword of judgment on the book cover, not a sword Carrie ever wields.) Much of the book is spent on world-building, which although done well, slows the forward pace of the plot. However, ORACLE is the first of a series, so world-building is likely necessary.
Despite these limitations, the book is engaging. Carrie’s sidekick Bedlam is particularly fun—a fallen angel fighting his chaotic nature. (Indeed, he’s so much fun that he’s the focus of the next book in the series.) As a narrator, Carrie is relatable and charming, important as the book is written solely in her point of view. She doesn’t resent her banishment to Earth, or the pain she’s suffered, or even the scorn of the angels. She just does her job as Oracle, and sometimes, as hero.
Readers interested in angel mythology, historical fantasy, and urban fantasy will find this book a fun read. Bonus: no cliffhangers here! This book can stand alone, or you can read on to the next book in the series.
5 stars - TOP PICK!
Oracle of Philadelphia on Amazon
Oracle of Philadelphia on Goodreads
Author's Twitter handle @ercorrigan
Katie Rose Guest Pryal is an author and freelance writer who covers health, higher education, motherhood, and careers, though not necessarily together. She’s active on Twitter (@krgpryal) and her blog (http://katieroseguestpryal.com).