Published: December 18th, 2013
Matty doesn’t want to end the world. Unfortunately, she has no choice.
Through a series of unfortunate events, Matty DiCamillo discovered that she is the heir to an ancient prophecy, destined to destroy her own reality to save countless others. Now she has been locked away, interrogated by supernatural beings known as Aetelia who wish to force the apocalypse to their choosing. After a breathless escape and an attack by the band of rebel Aetelia known as the Watchers, Matty must not only cross worlds but time itself to elude capture and face her destiny on her own terms. Aided by her lover Kristy and an ageless couple, she must face death itself to reach the City of the Dead.
Long ago, a mysterious being known as The Lost Aetelia crafted an elaborate series of Watchtowers, along with their resident guardians, the Aetelia, to watch over the Universe. In time, they sent a select group of their own to Earth, tasked with watching over the fledging human race. This group used humanity to challenge the established structure of the Universe. A bitter war ensued, and these rebels, who had come to be known as Watchers, disappeared from history.
The time of the Aetelia – now known as angels – is returning. After a fateful night of violence, Artist Matty DiCamillo finds herself drawn into this world by a mysterious savior, who becomes a driving force in Matty’s new life.
Both driven by and fighting the words of prophecy that lay out her destiny, Matty, her lover Kristy, and her best friend Daniel, follow this mysterious savior on a journey from Northern California to Las Vegas on a path that crosses through the boundaries of time and space.
As Matty struggles to understand her destiny, she discovers that her savior may not be what she seems, and that even the denizens of this twilight world have no idea what lurks behind the stage dressing of reality. Matty finds herself not only racing to rescue the woman she loves, but learning that she herself could be the cause of the Universe’s day of reckoning.
Angels or Not? Examining the Aetelia
Hi there, thanks for joining me on the Pathways of the Dead virtual book tour. As always, I’m humbled at the chance to share with a new audience and thank our gracious host.
Today I’ve been asked to explore whether the supernatural beings known as the Aetelia in the Among the Dead cycle are angels. It’s a complicated question, but the easiest answer is: sort of. To better explain, I’ll take a look at the in-universe correlation between the Aetelia and angels and then compare the defining traits of angels against their in-universe progenitors.
Among the Dead is based on the Enochian system of Magick, created in the 16th Century by John Dee, a well-known occultist and agent to the throne. Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley claimed to speak to angels, receiving the lost knowledge of the ancients regarding the metaphysical structure of the universe, along with the language of the angels. The governing structure of the Aetelia is constructed out of Dee’s hierarchy. In that sense, the Aetelia are based on angels.
So, in-universe, how did humans get to know these Aetelia? The legend has its roots in the ancient world, when a rogue band of Aetelia known as the Watchers came to Earth to guide humanity into civilization. It was supposed to be a benevolent mission, but the Watchers turned power hungry and instead established their own empire on the backs of human slaves. These slaves would toil under the Watchers for thousands of years before they discovered the existence of other Aetelia, ones who had sent the Watchers on a mission of peace. The humans “spoke to the angels” and begged them to overthrow the Empire. .
The resulting battle came to be known as The Flood, which faded into human memory as Noah’s deluge. After that time, the remaining Aetelia interceded in humanity in a far gentler manner, making rare appearances to apply pressure needed to shape civilization. These sightings were recorded over the years in various religious texts, giving rise to angels as we know them.
I created the Aetelia to examine the idea of a race so far advanced of us that they appeared supernatural but share the same flaws and oddities as human beings. The Aetelia have never met or seen God and have only a fragmented knowledge of their origin, handed down from a being they call The Lost Aetelia. He is seen as their precursor and, by some, as their creator.
Their directives issue from a mysterious singularity in the center of their world called The Black Cross. Long ago a voice spoke from within the Black Cross to select members of the Aetelia (now known as Seniors, these are also known as Archangels), ordering them to do whatever it takes to ensure that sentient life evolves along certain pathways. Some of this does resemble the angels following God’s mandate (and that voice in the Black Cross is very important to book 4), but the Aetelia are free to disobey - and indeed certain factions have disobeyed, including the Watchers.
So we’ve established that the Aetelia serve similar functions as angels, but what of the beings themselves? What separates your average Aetelia from an angel? Let’s look at some defining characteristics of an angel:
● Angels are messengers/servants of God.
● Their job is to build relations between Heaven and Earth.
● Have very little free will of their own.
● As projections of God’s will are “pure”.
● Angels are meek and modest.
● They can easily ascend and descend between Heaven and Earth.
We’ve established the first two points here for the Aetelia. While they may not be direct messengers of God, they do serve an unknowable force that seeks to benevolently direct the universe. They have copious amounts of free will but - like many humans - often choose to throw it away in the name of the “glorious betterment”. They are also far from pure, as even the “good” Aetelia can be stubborn, cold-blooded, and dangerous. They smoke, they drink, they fight, they fall in love, and they murder, which also rules out the whole meek and modest angle. They can move between realities fairly easily, but only compared to humans. There are others who can make the transitions far more rapidly and easily, and those people are coveted (see the series protagonist, Matty DiCamillo).
So you can see, as with any legend, the reality doesn’t quite match up to the myth, but the series makes the case of the Aetelia being flawed angels and demons, though they are messengers of a world far stranger than we had imagined.
Born and raised in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Jonathan wrote his first fantasy/sci-fi novel at the age of 13. After studying writing and communication at James Madison University, Jonathan turned his passion for writing into a full-time technical writing career in the DC Metro area, working for companies like Sprint/Nextel, Time Warner Cable, and Sirius XM Radio, where he had an opportunity to combine his love of music with his love of writing. He may have drifted away from fiction at times, but it was always his first love – and he always returned to it. Now living in Bethesda with his wife, two cats, and two quirky guinea pigs for which his publishing company is named, he crafts the kinds of stories that he had always hoped to read but just couldn’t quite find.