First things first, I need to say a massive thank you to Patchwork Press for accepting my request to review this book on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.
*This review will contain spoilers!*
"Good and evil are absolute, or so we've said. But what if good and evil are not as certain as we believe? What if there are stages in between the two polarities?"
This novella gives us the back story of Kala and Ana, the leaders of rebellion group New Genesis in 'Incite', the second novel in Erica Crouch's Ignite series. If you haven't read the series so far, I'd highly recommend you go and do that first!
This book sits in the events of the first novel, and one of my favourite things about this book was getting to see the events unfolding from an outsiders perspective. In 'Ignite', Penemuel, a fallen angel, falls in love with Michael, the Archangel of Heaven, and one of the best things about this novella was hearing the angels gossiping about Pen and Michael - none of them completely sure of what was going on, but everyone knowing that something was amiss. Personally, I found this rather funny, because for a lot of 'Ignite' Pen thinks they're being super subtle and are keeping their feelings for each other under the radar, and it was great to see this being completely disproved.
Similarly, the ending of the novella overlaps with the ending of 'Ignite', in which Azael assists Lucifer in reclaiming Heaven for the demons, and while this is quite overlooked by Pen and Michael as they are not in Heaven when it occurs, getting to see Heaven torn apart from Kala's perspective definitely anchored what a terrible occurrence it really was. It was one of the only things in the first novel that left me feeling a bit unimpressed, because we didn't get to see any of the action, so getting to experience the fighting breaking out as the demons invaded solidified the events that spring from it in the second novel.
However, as well as getting to see events from other perspectives, I highly appreciated the fact that we were given the opportunity to see the motivation that both Kala and Ana have in forming the rebellion group. In 'Incite', we didn't really get much back story of New Genesis, so it was a bit concerning that our protagonists were rather blindly joining this group of strangers, and it was very eye-opening to be able to witness what pushed them down the path that they decided to take.
Kala was a guardian angel, and when her charge took mercy on a dying cancer patient and gave her a morphine overdose, the angels on the council charged with deciding her fate thought she should have stopped him - that he was now a murderer, and it was Kala's fault. Understandably, Kala was pissed - if you've read 'Incite' I'm sure you can imagine the profanities pouring from her mouth - and she argued her point that he committed an act of mercy, only for her to be stripped of all guardian angel powers. Only one of the angels on the council fights against the decision - Ana, who is as exasperated as Kala is with their inability to defy the rules they've been following for years. Instead of blindly rushing into a rebellion that could have gotten them both killed, they took their time and planned exactly what they needed to do, subtly feeling out the amount of support they could manage to gather, and New Genesis is that much stronger for their careful contemplation.
I absolutely loved Kala's character from the moment I encountered her in 'Incite' - seeing a guardian angel cursing like a sailor was a unique juxtaposition that really refreshed the series and definitely made it stand out from the crowd. I didn't really get any feelings for Ana, because she seemed to be an aloof and logical character that didn't get involved emotionally, so I was pleased to come out of 'Engage' feeling just as enamoured with her as I was with Kala. Their personalities are both well-rounded and developed, and even though they seem like complete opposites of each other it just means that their partnership is a complete whole, just like Pen and Michael's.
I cannot wait for the third and final book in the Ignite series, 'Infinite' to be released later on this year, because I'm already foaming at the mouth for more adventures from Kala and Ana, and to see exactly what happens between Pen and Azael when they have their final face off. This novella has definitely sparked my interest in the series again, and despite the fact that nothing exciting happened that we didn't already know about, it definitely feels as though it's given more depth and development to the plot line and the characters. Another brilliant release from Erica Crouch.