At the site of a world-famous architectural marvel located in the heart of the mystical red rock country surrounding Sedona, Arizona, a young college student encounters an ancient secret that holds the key to the origins of the universe. Haunted by his epiphany over decades, unexplainable—almost miraculous—events overtake him, until he has a revelation that compels him to go on a dangerous quest to resolve the mystery.
Archangel of Sedona documents the personal story of Tony, a veteran integrating his combat experiences with his metaphysical awakening in the Red Rock’s atmosphere of infinite space and boundless silence. His hero’s journey through both beauty and danger combines mystery, adventure, and spiritual discovery.
There is no serendipity.
Received from Netgalley in exchange for a review.
This is written in a sparse, rather clean, style, that I actually quite liked. Tony Guardino, a native of Arizona, has a connection with a chapel in Sedona, along with it’s rather unusual representation of Christ on the cross. One night in 1966 he is near the chapel drinking beer with a friend when they witness Unidentified Flying Objects zipping through the sky.
Over the next decades, Tony has various experiences (car crash, tours in the most hellish part of Vietnam etc) that should have seen him dead a thousand times over but still he comes through it. Having been brought up by the Jesuits, Tony has a certain Catholic leaning to his spiritual life, but since the Catholic Church doesnt recognise that his first marriage failed, it means that it doesnt recognise his second marriage to Gretchen, another Army body who has retrained as a lawyer.
The majority of the story is set in 2013, when Tony is all but retired from all of his roles. He and Gretchen take a trip to Sedona (despite Gretchen’s general displeasure), after Tony finds that the Christus from the church has disappeared and the Church has stopped performing services on site – it’s unclear from what he finds out which came first. Tony finds out more “coincidences” that lead him to meet certain people, and make certain decisions. At the end of their planned stay, Gretchen leaves to go back to her job. Tony stays, making another connection to an ex Army member, whose life has been amazingly similar to Tony’s, that leads to the final stage of his search.
A trip out into the wilderness of Arizona with his new army buddy, a priest and a guide, results in a stand off with a heavily armed, highly organised group of what seems to be drug dealers, linked to an extra-terrestrial cult. This is a decently executed set piece (for those who have all their army training via the movies!) set over a couple of days, with what I hope is enough fire-arm detail to keep the gun-nerds happy.
Finally, Tony and his friends find out the reason why they have been brought to this point, at this time, and that it’s bigger than they thought.
The finale with the three men is vague enough that makes everyone wonder what is right and what is true and allows for everyone to take their own ending from it.
So: a story that’s written in a style I like, that’s not too over inflated, mostly grounded in some form of sanity with enough leaway for readers to make their own decision as to what happened in the end … a pretty decent story all told!
Some more information regarding the chapel in Sedona:
This page has an image of the Christus itself, which was taken down after complaints: