The act of writing a novel has been compared at times to climbing a mountain. I cannot think of a more appropriate metaphor when discussing THE LOST ANGEL, Javier Sierra’s fascinating new thriller. In his Author’s Note, Sierra shares that as part of the process of writing this book, he tried on several occasions to climb Mount Ararat, which is believed to be the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. After several attempts, he reached his goal. He embarked on this quest so that he could describe the area accurately in his novel. It is this attention to detail, coupled with his enthralling imagination, that makes THE LOST ANGEL a must-read book for this year.
"It is [Sierra's] attention to detail, coupled with his enthralling imagination, that makes THE LOST ANGEL a must-read book for this year."
Sierra begins this complex and intriguing path by shifting points of view and alternating between the past and present. One of these perspectives belongs to Julia Alvarez, a Spanish historian whose specialty is the recovery of the mysteries of religious art otherwise lost to antiquity. Julia is married to Martin Faber, an extremely complicated man who is much more than he appears to be. Martin is a climatologist and former NSA operative; he also is possessed of a pair of powerful and mysterious stones with which his family has been entrusted for centuries. These stones, it is said, have the ability to communicate with God --- and Julia turns out to be one of those very few people who can bring them to life.
The couple lives relatively quietly, engrossed in their respective areas of research, until Martin is kidnapped at Mount Ararat while examining humankind’s second fall from grace following what took place in the Garden of Eden: the Great Flood. An elusive but powerful cult, dedicated to the worship of angels, is convinced that the talismans that Martin and Julia hold will enable them to communicate with the mysterious beings, whom they believe are secretly living among humankind.
Meanwhile, a United States governmental agency that has existed for more than a hundred years sees the stones as a means by which it can fulfill its long-range mission: predicting the exact date of the next cataclysmic event that will threaten global extinction. As a solar event threatens to cause such an occurrence, Martin and Julia find that they may be the only two people on Earth who can prevent a third fall from grace --- though such prevention may be possible only at a great personal cost.
Sierra literally left no stone unturned in researching and writing THE LOST ANGEL, and the result is a smart, imaginative thriller that has already captured the imaginations of readers in Europe and now stands ready to do the same in the United States. While the subject matter and plotting are quite complex, Sierra makes use of short chapters and rapid changes of scene to keep pages turning quickly. Even if angels or Noah’s Ark are not part of your core beliefs, you will find THE LOST ANGEL an addicting and riveting read.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 27, 2011