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A fabulous roller coaster ride

Happenstance Books Review

There are worse things than death.

The Nephilim have a new enemy. Belial, the Fallen Angel who brings destruction and madness, has a foothold in the present, and he refuses to leave without a fight.

However, the Nephilim are determined to root him and his agents out and destroy his influence for good.

As his malevolent presence casts a sinister shadow, Gabe and the team embark on a perilous quest. Their journey uncovers more of his powerful jewels, hidden temples, and ancient lineages, and threatens to unleash supernatural chaos.

Their search is complicated by the Emerald Tablet that JD believes can help them. He is close to cracking the code that will unlock its secrets.

But will those secrets help them, or destroy them all?

As the Nephilim and Shadow draw closer to their quarry, they must unravel the mysteries of the past and confront their own inner demons.

It’s lucky they have an extensive team of occult hunters and witches to help them. They will need all of their skills to survive the might of a Fallen Angel.

This urban fantasy adventure is action-packed, full of suspense, has a slow-burn romance, witches, magic, Nephilim, and fey, and lots of banter. Get your copy now.

Chapter One

Gabe settled himself against the curve of the church’s domed roof, the starlit sky spread above him, and focussed on the shadow-filled courtyard below.

He was in Florence, Italy, with Niel, Ash, Nahum, and Shadow, waiting for the man they suspected was an agent for Belial, the Fallen Angel. It was the end of February; two months since they had defeated Black Cronos, and since then, this search was all they had spent their time on. Two months of achingly slow progress, with this the only lead. It was an opportunity that most of the team hadn’t wanted to miss out on. However, despite their eagerness to participate, they all knew the importance of caution. Consequently, Eli and Zee were still in White Haven, Barak and Estelle were in Yorkshire, investigating Jacobsen’s church again, and Lucien was in London, working with Jackson and Harlan as they continued to track down leads. They were all trying to keep Olivia out of it because she was pregnant, but she was not happy about it.

The patter of footfalls on cobblestone made him hold his breath, but the giggles of a group of girls made him realise the noise came from outside the church, bouncing off the thick stone of the surrounding buildings. The church was in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Florence, at the centre of a spiderweb of streets, with small squares sandwiched in between the ancient buildings. The place was old, creaking with knowledge and secrets, this thirteenth-century church more than most.

It was after midnight, and they had been in Florence for two weeks, becoming familiar with the area and their quarry’s movements. Only Shadow had been inside the church, the rest of them wary of being discovered and alerting their suspect, an elderly deacon called Salvatore Amato. So far, they were sure they hadn’t been. Shadow, because of her natural fey magic and stealth, had followed his movements on foot at night as far as the entrance to the crypt, but was reluctant to explore further as she detected unearthly angelic power. Caution had won over curiosity, but it was enough to convince them to question the old man.

Niel’s voice cut across his thoughts, through the earpieces they wore to keep in contact. “I see him now, approaching from the south. He’s heading to the door that leads to the courtyard, just like normal. I estimate another few minutes before he arrives. Stick to the plan. Copy?”

The murmured responses from his brothers and Shadow confirmed his message, although Gabe knew Niel would have more trouble following that instruction than anyone. Follow Amato, seize any jewels with Belial’s power, and question him. Do not kill him. Gabe carried a wooden box in his pack, spelled with protection, and designed to hold any Fallen Angel jewellery they found. Its weight reassured him.

Gabe glanced to his left. Ash was a short distance away, also perched on the roof, where he sheltered in the shadows of the ornate stonework. Shadow waited below, cloaked in darkness in a corner of the courtyard. Niel circled overhead, keeping watch, while Nahum looked out over the front of the church. They would both now adjust their positions to join them. Just questions, Gabe reminded himself. Don’t kill him, no matter how much he irritates the crap out of you. And be wary of Belial’s trinkets.

Gabe took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. They were so close. It was Jackson who had found Salvatore after tracking Jacobsen’s movements—the vicar who had peddled around the reliquary that contained Belial’s jewellery. He had investigated his various addresses over many decades and found that he spent a lot of time at this church in his youth. It seemed odd that a vicar of the Church of England should frequent a Catholic church, but something must have piqued his interest. That led them to do more extensive research, and they had found something very interesting. While many staff moved around, a few older members had worked here for decades, but Jacobsen had kept in touch with only one of them. Salvatore Amato. But what had confused them was that there were no sporadic outbreaks of violence in Florence. Another mystery, if Amato was an agent.

The click of the lock in the door alerted them to his arrival, and Gabe braced himself for flight.

The figure was slight, innocuous in many ways, but his movements were sure and swift as he locked the door and crossed the courtyard to the side door of the ancient church. Just like clockwork. Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday night he would come here for at least two hours before leaving again. They waited for him to enter the church before swooping down, and then all four Nephilim landed in silence, although, Gabe noted again with a grimace, Ash’s newly golden wings reflected the tiniest bit of light. An unexpected gift from Belial, and no doubt unintended. Shadow was already at the door, and they soundlessly followed her inside.

The scents of incense, cold stone, and a whiff of mustiness struck Gabe as they closed the door behind them. Amato had already disappeared, but Shadow led them down the passageway and into the nave. It was huge, a domed roof high above them, with rich reliefs on every single wall. At the far end was a spectacular altar, a gilded cross towering over it. There were angels everywhere. Huge, winged creatures that looked on from paintings and sculptures.

Gabe’s skin prickled with unease, but he hadn’t time to think about it. Shadow led them behind the altar to the choir area, then halted at the steps that led to the crypt. Gabe felt Belial’s presence like a punch to the gut. He gently eased her aside, shot a warning look to his brothers, and led them down the steps.

The staircase descended further than he expected, the smell of dampness mingling with Belial’s distinctive power. The ancient wooden door of the crypt was open, candlelight leaking through. A low-roofed space stretched ahead, filled with tombs, iron railings, niches, and statues. They faltered for a moment, still unable to see Amato, but light from a side corridor drew Gabe onwards.

With every step, Belial’s power swelled around them, until Gabe was sure that he was actually about to face him. A palpable air of worry had settled over all of them, and Gabe gripped his sword for reassurance. Finally, they arrived at the threshold of an ancient round room with a domed roof, carved with hundreds of angels. A place of worship to a master who didn’t deserve it. An altar dominated one side, an enormous marble statue of an angel with outspread wings looming over it. It was draped in jewels. A long, golden necklace with a heavy pendant rested on his broad chest, a silk-lined fur cloak flowed from his shoulders, and bracelets and torcs were fixed around muscular arms. In his outstretched hand was a real sword made of tempered steel with a rich, engraved hilt. So much jewellery. So much power. Amato was nowhere in sight, but he must be here somewhere.

Wary of traps, Gabe glanced down the corridor that continued past the small chapel, but it lay in darkness with an air of disuse. He tentatively stepped inside the room and had progressed a few steps only when he was suddenly struck by Belial’s power. It was as if a giant weight was forced upon his shoulders, and unable to resist the unspoken command, he fell to his knees. By now everyone was inside the room, and his brothers followed suit. Shadow suddenly vanished. Panic swirled through Gabe as he struggled to master his movements, but he was utterly powerless. Unable even to speak.

Salvatore Amato emerged from behind the statue, black clothes billowing around him. His eyes glowed with a maniacal gleam. “It is fitting,” he crowed, his thin, reedy voice swelling with the power of Belial, “that you kneel before him. You are nothing compared to his power and majesty.”

Gabe’s panic multiplied as he struggled to respond, his jaw tight, every muscle seized. Idiot. Why did he step inside? All four Nephilim were in a loose semicircle, darting eyes their only movement.

“You will swear your fealty to Belial or die,” Amato continued, stepping closer. “I know who you are. You murdered poor Jacobsen and have used Belial’s jewellery for your own ends.” He shook his head as he paraded in front of them, then suddenly pulled a wicked, curved blade from his gown, glinting with angelic script. “And you,” he paused before Ash, whose golden wings glowed within the candlelight, “even used his power to save yourself. You are already his. Perhaps I should ask you to kill your brothers. Stand.”

Unexpectedly, and clearly against his will, Ash stood, sword gripped in clenched fist, muscles flexing. He towered over Amato, but the man stood before him, resilient, unyielding. If he commanded Ash to kill now, would he? Niel and Nahum were within easy reach, both furious and frustrated.

Trying not to let fear and anger overwhelm him, Gabe focussed on slowing his breathing and regaining control of his mind and body. He forced himself to look at the statue of Belial. He had no natural human form, but from his many incarnations, he recognised his narrow-eyed stare. The look of superiority. The vindictive smile. It might only be marble, but white fire seemed to flame behind his eyes, the skin taking on a luminous glow. His presence felt so strong, Gabe was almost convinced that he was actually contained within the statue, but that was impossible. And it was impossible that they should be restrained by him. He scanned the room, taking in the scored marks on the stone floor and its mirror image above them. He had been so distracted by the hundreds of angels that he hadn’t seen it. A trap, but not for demons. For Nephilim.

Amato was toying with them, and despite all their stealth and care, the bastard had known where they were all along. But did he know about Shadow? And where the hell was she?


As soon as Shadow entered the shrine, she detected another level of magic, and it didn’t come from Belial. It came from the sigils etched on the floor and roof, and she instantly knew what they were. Fortunately, they did not affect her actions, and she stepped into the dark, where the candlelight couldn’t reach, and pulled her fey magic around her.

She felt an instant relief as Belial’s insidious whispers muted, and the stone and earth around her offered her soothing comfort. I am fey. As old as the Earth and her mysteries. I am not cowed by you, Belial.

She was only just in time. As the four Nephilim fell to their knees, Amato stepped around the statue, and she moved silently behind him, back to the wall, assessing all other dangers. But there was no one else in the room. As well as the jewels on the statue, rings were heaped upon the altar amongst half a dozen candles. She also scented blood. Old, dried blood. Sacrifices.

Amato began to speak, his voice assuming power that was not his own. Shadow was torn with indecision. If she killed him now, they would learn nothing from him. No, she would wait and hope he would reveal more of his plans. He would not harm the Nephilim. Not yet, surely.

“Should I have you kill your brothers?” Amato asked Ash. “It would be so easy. You lift your sword, and you stab the one to your right.” He raised his hand as he spoke, and Ash lifted his sword and struck at Niel, the blade missing his throat by a whisker. “If I willed it,” Amato said, a thin-lipped smile creasing his face, “he would be dead by now.”

Shadow flinched at the demonstration of power. She couldn’t deny it was impressive. But that was too close.

Amato stepped back, and Ash sank to his knees, sweat beading on his brow. Amato whirled around, placing his dagger on the altar, then studied the Nephilim again. “I need answers. How did you find me? What else do you know? Who works with you? You!” he commanded Nahum. “Speak.”

“Screw you, old man,” Nahum ground out between clenched teeth. “You might control my body, but not my mind.”

“Ah! The father of the Nephilim child. Belial is aware of it. She and her mother have the protection of the Goddess, which is rather annoying.”


Nahum stuttered, his blue eyes flickering with uncertainty and a flare of pride. “I’m having a daughter? I swear, if you touch her, I will kill you.”

“You are in no position to threaten me, and certainly not Belial.”

“Don’t be so sure about that.”

“You have no power here, so your threats are pointless.”

Salvatore Amato looked utterly unconcerned. For an old man, he radiated health and vitality. In fact, he might actually be much older than they suspected. A gift From Belial. It would explain how he could assume the Fallen Angel’s power and carry it so effortlessly. And this place certainly reeked of age. It was as old as the church above, maybe even older. Perhaps the church had been built over it.

He continued, his voice dropping and filling with Belial’s power again. “How many others?”

“There are only us.”

“Lies. Perhaps if I kill one of your brothers, you will speak the truth. With every lie, I kill one more.” He studied the four prisoners. “Kill the golden-winged one.”

Nahum unwillingly stood and lifted his sword, slowly advancing on Ash.

Shadow couldn’t afford to wait any longer. She had hoped that Amato would give away some of his secrets willingly, but it was clear he would not. They would have to coerce him, and somehow break his power over the Nephilim.

She materialised out of the darkness, wrapped one arm around Amato’s thin shoulders, and placed her dagger at his throat. “End it now, or I end you.”

The old man roared in shock, and before Shadow knew what was happening, he seemed to swell in size as he emitted a blinding white light. It threw her off her feet and into the wall, her dagger falling to the floor.

Fortunately, it had thrown the Nephilim back, too. All four lay crumpled against the walls. But that was as much as she saw, because Amato snatched up his cruel-edged knife and flew at her with lightning speed.

She rolled to a crouch, her other blade already in her hand, facing him. “You are more than you appear, Amato. You must carry a trinket to have that much power.”

“Who are you?” he spat. “How dare you enter my sanctuary!”

“I dare to enter anywhere I choose.”

He flew at her, dagger slashing where she had stood, but she had already moved, keeping easily out of reach. “Release the Nephilim.”

“I will kill them first.”

Rather than lunging at her, he sprang at the closest Nephilim, all four still lying helplessly and unable to move. He reached Gabe first. His knife slashed his arm in a vicious jab. Shadow tackled Amato, rolling over and over across the stone floor, feeling his sharp blade slice her side. It was as cold as ice, yet it burned with the power of the sigils.

She landed on top of him, knee pinning his hand that carried the blade to the ground. She punched him repeatedly, his head striking the stone flags. But he was strong with angelic power. He rose up, trying to throw her off him, desperate to free his knife. With an unexpected surge of strength, he rolled, slamming her into the ground, blade slashing down. Shadow wanted to slit his throat and be done with him, but they still needed him for answers. Instead, she stabbed his arm, slicing through tendons, and with a horrified yell and a splatter of blood, he fell backwards, then scrambled away on hands and knees.

“Glad to know that you still feel pain, you bastard,” she yelled. She struck again, cutting the back of his legs and slicing his Achilles tendons with another splatter of blood.

He screamed, eyes wild, foaming at the mouth as if with some religious ecstasy.

She edged back, knowing he couldn’t move, and checked her team. They were still where they had fallen, limbs tangled. Gabe’s arm was bleeding profusely. He stared at her, his emotions a mix of fury and gratitude. And confusion. Deep confusion.

Not surprising. This place was all kinds of unexpected, and so was Amato. The wound at her side ached, and she pressed her hand to it, trying to stem the blood flow. Amato was muttering something, eyes closed, his power building. Much like the unexpected surge of power when she had attacked him.

What now?