Review | Where Oblivion Lives – T. Frohock

About the Book

Born of daimon and angel, Diago Alvarez is a being unlike all others. The embodiment of dark and light, he has witnessed the good and the horror of this world and those beyond. In the supernatural war between angels and daimons that will determine humankind’s future, Diago has chosen Los Nefilim, the sons and daughters of angels who possess the power to harness music and light.

As the forces of evil gather, Diago must locate the Key, the special chord that will unite the nefilim’s voices, giving them the power to avert the coming civil war between the Republicans and Franco’s Nationalists. Finding the Key will save Spain from plunging into darkness.

And for Diago, it will resurrect the anguish caused by a tragedy he experienced in a past life.

But someone—or something—is determined to stop Diago in his quest and will use his history to destroy him and the nefilim. Hearing his stolen Stradivarius played through the night, Diago is tormented by nightmares about his past life. Each incarnation strengthens the ties shared by the nefilim, whether those bonds are of love or hate . . . or even betrayal.

To retrieve the violin, Diago must journey into enemy territory . . . and face an old nemesis and a fallen angel bent on revenge.

355 pages (paperback) 
Published on February 19, 2019
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I’ve been following this author since just before she released her very first book. I look back on her storied career, and I’m just so impressed by everything she’s done, and the high quality of work she has always, ceaselessly provided her readers. It also makes me feel like I’ve been bopping around genrespace and writing reviews an abnormally long time, considering blog turnover rate these days. Ah, well. 

Anyway, I’ve been reading Frohock’s books since she’s been publishing books, and they always land really well for me. Each book is a bit different, she has a way with tackling social issues and history that really works for me. Plus, she mixes that with some extremely fluid prose and yeah, it’s great. It’s like her books were written with me in mind. They weren’t, but I can flatter myself. 

Where Oblivion Lives takes off after the previous Los Nefilim novellas, yet it is also a good entry point for new readers. Somehow, Frohock managed to do what a lot of authors struggle with: creating a book that will keep tried-and-true readers engaged, while also serving as a good entry point for new readers who haven’t visited this particular world of hers before. That being said, the novellas are absolutely amazing, and give this book a real sense of depth and history that perhaps made me appreciate some aspects of it more than I otherwise would have. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book, regardless. I just think having some background before I went into this probably upped my enjoyment a touch.

Heavily focused on plot, Where Oblivion Lives is set in 1932, an interesting time when tensions in Europe are rising as the world changes and events start barreling toward an impending World War II, which isn’t too terribly far away. Set against this backdrop of tension and change we have one Diego, who is a rare individual born of both an angel and a daimon, and is struggling to prove himself to the Los Nefilim, a group that monitors daimon activity. 

Diego’s story was extremely powerful. He has a lot going on, from nightmares and lost violins, trying to prove himself to the Los Nefilim group, political tensions all around which impact things. Plus there’s daimons and powerful music and so much more. The poor guy doesn’t really catch a break, and yet through that, readers get a real sense of who he is. He is probably one of the purest characters I’ve ever read. And don’t misread that as me saying he’s without flaw, because he’s not. He’s just who he is and it’s really rare I come across a character when I read that is this unabashedly complex, complicated and yet somehow manages to shine so bright in the face of everything. 

The historical period Frohock deals with here is very interesting, and I will admit, this is one reason I wanted to read these books. As someone who has probably done about the same amount of research into the same time period but on the Russian side of things, I always find myself incredibly interested in not just how other authors research for their writing, but how they use that research in their writing. 

The world Frohock creates is our own, but it’s one steeped in magic and otherworldly creatures like angels and soul-eaters. Barreling toward very real wars (Spanish Civil War, World War II), it’s also on the cusp of a supernatural war as well. I loved how Frohock managed to infuse her book with a sense of time and place, and her research and devotion to her craft made me feel like I wasn’t reading about somewhere else, but I was reading about here and now. I was living the story.

The magic system is based on music, and Frohock’s writing is up to the task. What I mean by this is, she carefully selected her words for the greatest impact. Some turns of phrases in this book were stunningly beautiful, to the point where I felt like the book became a song in its own right. Rather than prose telling a story, the prose here felt like another shining layer of paint on an already brilliant landscape. 

Family and love are the shining beacons that fill this book. Diego is a bit of an outsider, and it did not take me long at all to empathize with him deeply. I feel, at times, a whole lot like Diego: outside, looking in. However, Diego’s love and devotion to those he cares about are almost as magical as the magic system itself, and perhaps that’s what I’m touching on when I say he’s one of the purest character’s I’ve read. Yes, he’s flawed, but at the core of his being, his true strength is his devotion, and it shines so incredibly bright. 

Where Oblivion Lives blew me away. It’s one of those books that swept my legs out from under me and left me reeling. A lot happens in these pages, not only with plot, but a lot of subtle details as well, which creates this perfect balance between relentless forward motion and personal growth. The world is so real, I felt transported there. The magic system is beautiful, and the prose are the icing on top of a positively decadent cake. 

If you haven’t read Frohock’s books yet, you really need to change that.

5/5 stars