Joseph J. Bailey’s Soul Stealer.
…When the pet rock has more characterization than practically all the humans in the story, you’ve got a problem.
The idea of the story definitely rocks. Heaven’s been overthrown by demons, the angels are dead or gone. Only their swords remain, picked up by humans noble or desperate enough to fight the demons devouring the world. A doomed fight, with a foregone conclusion… only to demonic surprise, unlike angels, humans don’t fight fair.
That’s the premise. It’s a good premise. And the protagonist, Saedeus, mushroom-tender with a pet rock, has the bones of what could be an interesting character. Outcast, humble circumstances, goes out to see if there’s any way he can help a fallen knight – and ends up suspected of murder.
Unfortunately, the hearing on that is pretty much all the human interaction we get for the rest of the book.
The remaining two-hundred-odd pages are pretty much the protagonist wandering through one blasted landscape after another, killing demons and fainting.
With a lot of fumbling.
And sentence fragments.
Like the above.
…Ahem. If the writer had condensed those into paragraphs, I’d estimate he would have strengthened the overall story and brought the length of the book down by about a third. At least.
But all of that is window dressing, in comparison to the main problem I have with the book. Just killing demons isn’t enough to make someone a hero. You also need to help people.
…And there’s pretty much no one left in the whole landscape to help. I just don’t buy it. Humans are more stubborn than that – especially given all the people who are supposed to have magical talent in this world. At one point the protagonist spends a page describing all the people who fight demons… and we see none of them. The only entities helping the main character are distinctly not human. Bah.
(One of them is the pet rock. No, really.)
So. Premise: interesting. Execution: Fail. Utter fail.
…Which is too bad. I bet an anime could take angel swords in human hands and make it awesome.