Review: The Space Between by Brenna Yavanoff

Publication Date:  November 15th, 2011
Razorbill
Format:  Hardcover, 363 pages
RATING:  4 out of 5 Stars

SUMMARY
Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this? Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped – and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie’s whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be. This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

Brenna’s debut novel, The Replacement didn’t really appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong; the novel was a study in world building with a story line that’s quite unique. But the lyrical writing left me completely baffled. I thought that the book was better suited for the intellectual types, because heaven knows, I’ve yet to figure out what it was about.

When I saw this book on Goodreads, I’d given it a somewhat lukewarm reception. I was expecting the same writing style – puzzling in a lot of ways but beautiful nonetheless. But after reading just the first two chapters of The Space Between, I could tell that my reactions to Brenna’s books would be as different as night and day.

The simplistic beauty of Ms. Yavanoff’s writing quickly ensnared me. I know that lyrical prose are just the bees’ knees but sometimes, authors tend over-write a story. I’m a fan of say what you mean, and mean what you say principle in life and the same goes when I read. Don’t over think a scenario. Don’t convolute the story with flowery words that has a tendency to complicate the simplest of things. If we were to speak in fashion terms, don’t over accessorize. I think Brenna’s straightforward writing in this novel made my reading experience much more pleasant.

There are a lot of ways where TSB trumps all the other angels and demons books that are out there. First of all, angels blur the line of good and evil and the same goes for the demons. It was so easy to root for the demons because other than collecting souls destined to hell, they weren’t the homicidal, evil bunch that we’ve come to know. Angel Azrael particularly, makes the perfect candidate for the most sinister, pyschopathic character of the year. He’s an angel…of the blood-letting, torture-loving variety. The good and evil scale was certainly imbalanced in this book. There were more good on the demons’ side than on the angel’s side. Confused yet? It’s simple really. It was a role-reversal of epic proportions. But not all demons were sporting an invisible halo – as was in the case of Beezlebub. I’m still on the fence about where to categorize him but knowing the reasons for doing what he did, I could sympathize to a point.

Daphne, the main character is a spawn of Lilith and Lucifer who decided to go earth-bound to find her brother Obie. The best thing about these siblings is that they seemed to have not gotten the memos that they were supposed to be evil. Obie, for instance, saves broken souls from an imminent eternal stint in hell. Granted, his father is Adam (yes, that Adam!) but her mother is Lilith. In Jewish Mythology, she was Adam’s first wife – the disobedient one and consequently, the evil one. Obie decided to leave Pandemonium for good in exchange for a dismal life on earth. But when he disappeared, Daphne had no choice but to find the only semblance of love she knows – that of her love for her brother. On the surface, it would seem like she’s just a half-demon, half-angel who was suffering from an identity crisis. But deep inside, she’s really consciously fighting her true nature – the succubus. This girl has some pretty wild abilities. Aside from being a firestarter, she could take away a person’s dark emotions – sadness, grief. She could also walk in your dreams and her shed blood turns into an army of Daphne. I honestly think that being a demon doesn’t fit her bill. She wasn’t evil – maybe a little confused about her identity but definitely far from evil.

I know this review is getting longer but I really must say a few words about Truman. He’s angsty, rebellious and had a predilection to suicide. I just want to take this boy home, feed him, clothe him, cuddle him. It’s the mother in me. His loneliness was so real that the sadness just drips off the pages. And this was where Daphne had to fight her instinct to drink all of Truman’s darkness away. In fact, she could’ve easily have taken all his pain but she chose not to because it wasn’t hers to take. Truman also has a bit of a history. The fight to skip through pages took a lot from me. I was impatient to know the real Truman and when the revelation happened, it was a little…underwhelming. There wasn’t much fan fare. I thought that his reactions toward the appearance of Daphne and her kind in his life was too nonchalant – as was his reaction when he learned who his real father was.

Even so, this book was amazing. I think that Ms. Yovanoff went over and above all the angels and demons myth retellings that we’ve been reading. The most admirable element about her writing is her ability to create the most visceral and yet fantastical world. The Space Between clearly shows her versatility in such a way that she was able to go off tangent from her inaugural work. I couldn’t say it was a personal growth as a writer but I think she just widened her spectrum to reach a broader audience.

  • this looks amazing!

  • Okay, so now I NEED to read this. I haven't read any of her books, but this sounds like the best one to start with.

  • That is a gorgeous cover. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Joy! (P.S. I giggle whenever I say that, bc of all the joys…)

  • That is a gorgeous cover. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Joy! (P.S. I giggle whenever I say that, bc of all the joys…)