Is The Final Installment of Celestial Creatures Worth Reading?

 § I received an advanced copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. §

Without much further ado, we are going to get right into this review, thus using the same manner that Olga Gibbs uses to drop the reader into the story: "Halo" picks up exactly after the cliff-hanger of "Harbinger". This is probably due to the fact, that Gibbs intended the series to be a trilogy but because of the length decided to split the last part into "Harbinger" and "Halo".  

Even though this invites to just keep on writing as if nothing happened, Gibbs still adds the important information about what exactly had happened and adds reminders and background info that you need in order to get back into the story.

Halo by Olga Gibbs
After the cliff-hanger - which I won't spoil here - the question is "how is Ariel going to go on?" She seems to be at her lowest point, alone, with seemingly no way out and has to find a way all the same. Due to this, "Halo"'s atmosphere comes much closer to one of a siege rather than a walking adventure. She is constantly under pressure and threat and has to work out a plan with very little resources available. This makes this book feel claustrophobic and more desperate. 
On top of this, the gore level is turned up to 11 in "Halo". Prior books had either only a few but extremely well done haunting scenes or one bigger battle. "Halo" includes more battles and as such more blood shed, even violent traditions are seen and she is not shy when it comes to describing them in detail. 

Ariel has also changed, she has become used to the much brutal and sometimes even seemingly ruthless ways. Even Ariel states that she is not recognisable compared to the girl who started this journey. This is a sentiment that I can only agree with because Ariel in "Halo" and Ariel who first encountered this world are not the same people. 

She turned into a "force is answered with force" kind of character, this is more out of necessity because none of her enemies would be willing to chose another path. This has the interesting effect of making Ariel morally grey: she still wants to protect the weak and the people she loves and keep them away from violence but does so by answering with a similar brute force. From a moral high ground someone might mock her but on the other hand, what can one do when this is the only language your enemy is willing to use ... 

"Halo" also focuses on the softer sides of Ariel - such as her relationship with her sister: this has been the driving force of the plot for most of the series. In this one, the story is concluded and in order to keep her sister save and healthy, she has to make a sacrifice. This also shows that she is capable of selfless love. Ariel has not only been hardened by this world, she still firmly believes that every angel deserves a fair trial, and there should be a justice system instead of the "thumb up, thumb down" system that seemed to be in place so far. 

Then there is the "love story" between Sam and Ariel, which has more moments in the spotlight than in prior books. However, I put it in quotations because it does not really follow the traditional teenage girl meets eternal boy type of love story. There are not squishy and gushy moments and awkward hands holding. Instead, their story focuses more on being devoted to each other: Sam does everything Ariel asks for because he loves her - even if he does not like her wish. Ariel is aware of this, and maybe even feels a little guilty because of it, but she also has an eye of Sam and wants to make sure that he is an equal in the group.

In prior books, I personally felt that it was hard to get behind this relationship but in "Halo" - when I managed to work it out - I began to enjoy it. I like that it plays on a different level than just kissing and squishy stuff.  Furthermore, I would have also thought it out of place would there be a sudden detour to a random and out of place sub-plot given the pace and topic of the main plot. 

Given the length of "Halo" the main plot has slower moments, and you are wondering for exactly how long they can be "under siege" before Baza does anything. At the same time, I was wondering until the very end how exactly they are going to get out of this one and still stay alive. Sometimes I was even convinced that Gibbs would kill Ariel towards the end ... did she? I won't spoil. 

In the end, I can recommend "Halo" to fans of the series. It is a fitting conclusion and follows Gibbs' style and journey into the fantastic and brutal world. 

 Haloby Olga Gibbs 
 published    2020
by  Raging Bear Publishing
 series    Celestial Creatures
 GoodreadsAdd to shelf 
Content warning:gore, violence

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