Hand of Raziel by Matthew S. Cox reviewed

The Hand of Raziel Book Cover The Hand of Raziel
Daughter of Mars series
Matthew S. Cox
Science fiction
Curiosity Quills Press
8 August 2016

Risa Black will decide the fate of an entire planet. After all, an angel told her so.

Orphaned young, she grows up among the resistance, fighting to give the people of Mars command of their own destiny. Two governments from Earth vie for control of the Red Planet; she wants them gone, regardless of how many explosives it takes.

To the outside world, she’s an emotionless, broken marionette. Inside, her father’s fiery end haunts her every waking moment. She never cared for destiny or politics, until the angel Raziel focused her anger. Both friend and foe alike believe her grip on sanity tenuous; she knows he is real, and pities those who will never feel his divine presence.

Whenever her adrenaline wears off, guilt at what her bombs did cuts deep, as does the apathy of the citizens she wants to liberate. The pain worsens after unexpected love cracks open her armored heart, causing her to question the role she plays in the bloody conflict.

Torn between duty and desire, she learns change never comes without loss.

The Hand of Raziel (book one in a series by Matthew S Cox) is set on Mars in the future. Two large Earth governments are controlling Mars. In addition there is a movement to try and liberate Mars from the control of these outsiders. The movement is the Mars Liberation Front or the MLF. Risa (Black) is the central figure in this story and she is working for the MLF. While basically human she has had a lot of cybernetics/devices incorporated into her “being”. This gives her a large number of extra powers/abilities which give her the edge on those who would like to end her missions. She has an additional advantage – an angel, Raziel – talks to her and helps her.

I actually find this book quite hard to review in some ways. There is plenty going for it in a positive sense. Risa is a good enough character. The story is action packed and entertaining with quite a degree of humour at times. The writing is vivid enough to make you feel as though you are there in many of the scenes. It is frequently tense and fast paced. While working for Martian liberation Risa is on her own quest into her past at the same time and this adds a very good dimension to the story for me.  I enjoyed the idea of Raziel as an angle who “speaks” to Risa (inside her head) – I’m guessing that may be developed in future books.

I’m still not quite sure why I was not completely “sold” on this book. I did find the story rather slow to get going and while Risa is well fleshed out some of the other characters seem less so. I’m left with the feeling that otherwise it is the multi genre nature of this that is not grabbing me. It is sci-fi – fine, it has fantasy in it – fine, however it is also billed as romance and maybe the three genres just don’t quite do it for me. It was an entertaining read which I enjoyed in the main, the author is obviously good and many folk will love it I’m sure

Note – I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review