Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick
Becca Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, Hush, Hush, managed to walk a fine line between the trend of the supernatural in young adult literature and a suspenseful plot and original backstory. If you haven’t read Hush, Hush yet, it’s certainly worth picking up, and it sets up the world, and the story of Nora Grey, without feeling as if it sacrificed plot or action for description. In the sequel, Crescendo, we return to the world of Nephilim and hosts, to the world of angels and their fallen brethren, and to the story of Nora Grey and Patch, her guardian angel. As always, one of Fitzpatrick’s greatest strengths is her ability to evoke a sense of dreamy possibility, of a world that exists behind a gauzy veil, carefully hidden, of a place where dreams have power, and where the actions of those in the distant past create more danger than even a fallen angel can guess:
The dream came in three colors: black, white, and wan gray.
It was a cold night. I stood barefoot on the dirt road, sludge and rain quickly filling the potholes pockmarking it. Rocks and skeletal weeds sprang up intermittently. Darkness consumed the countryside, except for one bright spot: A few hundred yards off the road sat a stone-and-wood tavern. Candles guttered in the windows, and I was just about to head toward the tavern for shelter when I heard the distant jangle of bells.
We are still following Nora Grey, and she still struggles with her Nephilim heritage. She has Patch to protect her, but she has begun to question the story behind her father’s death, and Scott Parnell, both an old friend and the new boy in town, intrigues and frightens her as it becomes clear that he is far more mysterious than his boy-next-door demeanor would suggest.
Fitzgerald does an excellent job, again, of making Nora both a normal teenage girl (loves her best friend, struggles with boys) and a brave investigator (willing to chase after possibly dangerous fallen angels, determined to find the answers she needs about her family). In Crescendo, Nora is even greater danger than she imagines, for though she has Patch to rely on, she has not really realized just how terrifying her enemies are, and the distance they are willing to go to win a war. For all of her determination and experience, she is still a teenage girl, and while the events of Hush, Hush have made her stronger, she still strides forward without all of the information, and still reacts with all of the heart of an adolescent.
Crescendo also adds to the story of the fallen angels, the Nephilim, and the humans that have encountered them. All is not well with the angels, and there is a sense of more going on than Nora realizes, adding to the feeling of a complete and vibrant world that lurks just out of sight, waiting to be discovered. This is only the second book in the series, but the hints of the complexity to come make it a satisfying read, and the strength found in Nora, to do what she must, is something that can carry the story far into the future.