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The Blood of Angels #1

The Convent of the Pure

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Secrets and illusions abound in a decaying convent wrapped in dark magic and scented with blood. Portia came to the convent with the ghost of Imogen, the lover she failed to protect in life. Now, the spell casting caste wants to make sure that neither she nor her spirit ever leave. Portia's ignorance of her own power may be even more deadly than those who conspire against her as she fights to fulfill her sworn duty to protect humankind in a battle against dark illusions and painful realities. Steeped in the legends of the Nephilim, The Convent of the Pure is the first installment of a steampunk novella trilogy by Sara M. Harvey. Don't miss the other two books of the Penemue trilogy!: The Labyrinth of the Dead The Tower of the Forgotten
Blurbs "The Convent of the Pure is a compelling blend of the numinous and the creepy, with a rich, atmospheric setting. I devoured it in a single sitting! Jacqueline Carey, author of Kushiel s Dart
"An intriguing fantasy novella that will move you to tears." Michael A. Burstein, Campbell Award-winning author of I Remember the Future
"The Convent of the Pure is a beautifully written page turner, dripping with magic and intrigue. I couldn t put it down. A gifted writer and storyteller, Sara M. Harvey is worthy of a rocket to the top! Fran Friel, Bram Stoker Award finalist and author of Mama s Boy and Other Dark Tales
"Harvey (A Year and a Day) cobbles together gothic steampunk fantasy and lesbian erotica in this romantic, necromantic tale." --Publishers Weekly, February 2009) "

152 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2009

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Sara M. Harvey

26 books39 followers

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5 stars
43 (28%)
4 stars
37 (24%)
3 stars
41 (27%)
2 stars
21 (14%)
1 star
8 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews
Profile Image for Brainycat.
157 reviews65 followers
August 7, 2013
Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 0
boobs: 1
bombs: 0
bondage: 0
blasphemy: 0
Bechdel Test: PASS
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: PASS
Please note that I only read about 15% of this book, then skimmed quickly through another 10% before I gave up on it. So my scores only reflect the first quarter of the book.

Again, I ask myself, "Am I reading the same book everyone else who gave these great reviews read?"

Usually, when I give up on a book because it's just not my cup of tea, I don't mention it on goodreads because I don't think it's fair for someone outside the target market to skew the ratings. On the other hand, I want to jump in and save other readers like myself who may be contemplating the book but don't have all the information they'd need to make a decision. So, in a compromise, if I chose a book solely on reviews at GR and I find it wildly different than my expectations, I'll put a review up. I wish there was a way you could skip 'starring' a review and just add some comments without affecting the overall rating.

I'm just going to mention the reasons I don't believe this book is for me and try refrain from making any unnecessary judgements. To reiterate, this book is not for readers like myself but there's no reason other readers won't enjoy it.

1) This book appears to be young adult fiction, I guess it's aimed at people around 14-16 years old. It uses lots of short sentences and small words. There is no subtlety to the language or the plot devices.

2) This story has a very strong christian bias. And not in the fun to read critical way; there are no moral ambiguities. The lines are clearly drawn and you're either in god's light or you're a dirty hellspawn who deserves to die.

3) The book is not even a little bit smutty. There were plenty of opportunities for some action in the part of the book I read and they were all passed over with barely a quickened pulse. See also point #1.

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.

Profile Image for Christy Stewart.
Author 12 books301 followers
June 2, 2010
Really fun mash up of classic themes with some bad ass women.

The illustrations were BEAUTIFUL.
Profile Image for lauraღ.
1,484 reviews65 followers
July 13, 2021
They had a certain passion that only came from fighting for something dearly loved.

This was a bumpy one. Lots of potential, and even though I had a fair few complaints, I'm still coming out of it with mostly positive feelings? Because I just can't help but love stories that deal with angels and angel lore and wings. I don't read a lot of it, so it's like forgotten catnip to me. It just activates something in my brain.

Portia is a demon-hunter, trained in a convent dedicated to the craft. Years ago, her lover Imogen died in a hunt gone wrong, and now Imogen's ghost accompanies Portia as much as she can. There are secrets coming to life about Portia's past that throws them into a power struggle with opposing forces. My biggest complaint about the book is that Portia is a secondary character in her own story. Things just keep happening to her; she rarely initiates any action. The book is just her reacting to a bunch of things people do, finding out information that's been hidden from her. Except she doesn't even find out that much; most of it is just revealed to her. It's a very passive book, and that was not super compelling to read. There's actually a lot of action and fight scenes, but something about the way those were written made them seem perfunctory and bland. The way information and lore was revealed often made me think that I was reading a second book in a series; the way some things were discussed and the way some characters were spoken of, it felt like the reader was supposed to know who they were. It was confusing and irritating by turns.

And yet... I still mostly liked this! IDK man, I just really like angels, lol. I enjoyed the lore and the worldbuilding, and there were a couple really exciting moments. I really liked how different prayers and saints were invoked, but this never got very religious, which I was glad for. (I like angels, but ironically I'm super ambivalent about religion. Whatever. I'm large, contain multitudes, etc.) This is mostly focused on Portia, but her relationship with Imogen played an important role, which I was super happy about. They were sweet together.

(There were apparently supposed to be illustrations throughout, but all the images were broken in my ebook copy, unfortunately.)

This ended on a cliff-hanger, but not a particularly frustrating one. (It helps that the first chapter of the next book is included, so you get some answers immediately.) IDK if I'll continue with the series, but I might! It was intriguing enough for me to want to give it a try.

Content warnings: .
Profile Image for Fibrowitch.
21 reviews4 followers
April 24, 2009
Have you ever looked at the cover of a book and knew you just had to read it? Opened the book and by the end of the first chapter knew this was a book that was going to be read in one sitting no matter how long that took?

Only to be disappointed when you turned the last page because you were not ready to leave the universe?

Well Convent of the Pure is all these things and more. Sara tells us the story of Portia, a woman who is 'special' and has been trained to hunt fiends. Demons who hunt and hurt humans. She is not perfect though, for she blames herself for the death of her love. A love who was turned into a ghost who both haunts and helps her.

All is not well in her world, and she is lead into a trap by a supposed friend who tries to use her, Imogen, and a group of children to put their world in danger. A wonderful world, part modern part mythical and all interesting. I look forward to more stories from this universe, telling us of Portia's further adventures, and back stories on some of the minor characters in this novel.

Sara, and Apex Publications promise this will be a trilogy, personally I am hoping for more than that. This is a small book only 138 pages, which surprised me because I could have sworn the book was longer than that. Some how she manages to put a full sized novel into this small book. I hope Apex is able to give this wonderful author a larger platform and publish a full size novel of this wonderful writer.

Please spread the word on this amazing author, Sara Harvey and her amazing book..

Convent of the pure

Oops, almost forgot the icing on this cupcake, an amazing cover and interior art by Melissa Gay
Profile Image for Dan.
656 reviews22 followers
September 28, 2011
Story of a demon-hunting nun and her undead lesbian lover. Points for creative use of tropes?

I think what annoyed me about this book was that the main character didn't actually do very much. She was menaced by some creepy things, she witnessed some atrocities, and she got handed a great deal of power for no reason internal to her character, but I can't think of any choices she made other than to not run away.
Profile Image for Tyrannosaurus regina.
1,018 reviews19 followers
May 31, 2014
Lesbian demon hunting nun? Of course I had to check this one out, even though the cover gave me reservations. Unfortunately, it didn't really do it for me. Both the characters and the world felt very sketched in and inconsistent, the narrative jumpy, and the writing heavy-handed. There are some interesting ideas here, but they never get fully developed.
Profile Image for Gregory Mele.
Author 9 books25 followers
December 27, 2019
A fresh, fast-paced occult horror novella of the Nephillim (children of fallen angels and mortals), necromancy and weird science, written in a way that evokes Tanith Lee, Storm Constantine and Jacqueline Carey, though without rising to their level of craft. The writing is crisp, evocative, the take on the Grigori/Nephillim fresh, although the Edwardian/Steampunk elements dont work -- beyond the clothing and the suggestion that motorcycles and cars a new-fangled, there is so much tech common to the mid-20th century that I think the story might have been better-served with a contemporary, or near-contemporary, setting.

Still, a nice, breathy dark-fantasy, and I will read the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Michele Lee.
Author 17 books49 followers
November 30, 2015
"I am Portia Gyony," she repeated, and the world bent slightly around the edges.

What would it be like to witness a battle between celestial beings? Sort of like The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey. Portia is a demon hunter and a Nephilim, a descendant of human and angel. Still mourning the death of her lover Imogen, yet protected by the ghost of Imogen, Portia is trying to complete her training to become a full member of the Gyony (demon hunter Nephilim as opposed to magic user or necromancer Nephilim) community.

Instead she is pulled into a plot to over throw the Primacy, the ruling council of the Nephilim, by a dark-hearted sect of necromancers, one of which helped her keep Imogen at her side after her tragic death. Portia isn't just a tool in the necromancer plot, she is the plot, one of the rare "Pure Bloods", a direct child of an angel and human.

The Convent of the Pure is a fast paced dark fantasy with steampunk elements. The world is rich and enticing, the only real flaw is it's short length. The world really could support a full length book, if not a series as Portia and Imogen are engaging, their romance a sweet up point against the dark tenseness of the world setting. Portia is strong without being snarky or bitchy. There's no stress over her ability to "hang with the boys", no real issue of gender roles at all, which is refreshing. The action is large scale and satisfying without being too easy or overwhelming.

Overall The Convent of the Pure is an excellent, enjoyable tale sure to appeal to readers of dark fantasy, urban fantasy and even paranormal romance.
Profile Image for Patricia Eddy.
Author 71 books691 followers
April 2, 2014
I was given this book by a friend who thought I might like it. It's the start of a series, The Blood of Angels. I loved the two main characters, Portia and Imogen. The two were lovers once, before Imogen died and now Imogen is a ghost, kept in this existence by a necromancer. This is a very short book, so I can't say much more without giving the plot away, but the two characters are the best part of this short, fast paced, and enjoyable story.

That's not to say the story isn't good on its own. It's heavily influenced by religious texts and legends and also quite deliciously steampunk. I enjoyed the descriptions of the various machines and medical...things...that are included. You can easily read this in one sitting. I do read quickly, but it took me less than 2 hours to get through it because it was so fast paced and because once Portia and Imogen get to where they are sent (which requires too much plot revealing to get into properly), you will want to know what happens next. Very badly.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the next in the series.
Profile Image for Ryan.
Author 1 book39 followers
January 7, 2011
Convent of the Pure's elevator pitch (or at least what I assume it's elevator pitch would be) seems like little more than a bunch of popular genre elements all tossed into the same pot: "In a steampunk world, a half-angel demon hunter and her ghostly lover must fight against corruption and betrayal."

The story itself is a lot more than that, though. All those elements are present, but the story is written well enough that it feels fresh and original in its telling.

My only issue with the book is that it could stand to be longer - because it's a novella and not a full novel, it felt like once it got started, it never slowed down to catch its breath and really explore the ideas that were both in the text and implied by them. It's the first part in a trilogy, though, so I'll have to see if the later parts deal with that before passing judgment.
Profile Image for David.
Author 22 books16 followers
September 9, 2010
So far I've only had a chance to read the first chapter; I'm hoping to get more time soon. The review in Publisher's Weekly describes this novella as lesbian erotica, but it strikes me more as a good YA book with an unsuitable cover. So far, not quite the breathtaking beauty of A Year and a Day, but by the end of the first chapter I'm really dying to know what happens next.
Profile Image for David.
184 reviews3 followers
April 3, 2012
Romance Fantasy story involving Nihilim which I read just after finishing Clockwork Prince - another book that fits that description. While this story wasn't badly told, it kinda pales in comparison before the others much more deeply imagined millieu.
Profile Image for Julia Bauer.
3 reviews12 followers
August 7, 2014
Interesting and adult novel of fantasy horror. Unusual relationships and points of view not for everyone's tastes but one should have one book in one's library that offends everyone. this is actually a great story and you should read it with an open mind.
Profile Image for Starry Night.
179 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2015
I think Publishers Weekly said it best that Convent of the Pure "cobbles together gothic steampunk fantasy and lesbian erotica in this romantic, necromantic tale."
Profile Image for Phillip M.
12 reviews
July 17, 2017
How evil can one get? Take over an orphanage and place the children in suspended animation tanks which, when wired together, can produce an even greater evil power. That’s what the hero, Portia, walks into with her sidekick and ghostly lover, Imogen, in this steampunkish world. This book has a good quick moving plot. Just when Portia prepares to battle the resident evil, an even greater evil arises. It then falls to the ghost of Imogen to muster forces from the beyond to save the day.

This book is not ordinary. It has good fantasy concepts and it is only the first volume in the steampunk trilogy. During the story, Portia discovers that, while she is a formidable warrior, she has yet to tap into an even greater power within her. The upcoming sequels should prove to be more good reading.

Phillip M. Johns
1,063 reviews2 followers
October 27, 2018
"Harvey (A Year and a Day) cobbles together gothic steampunk fantasy and lesbian erotica in this romantic, necromantic tale." --Publishers Weekly, February 2009) " - I don't know what book he was reading but it must have been more exciting than 'The Convent of the Pure'.
A very confusing and bland angels and demons thing, dang, the Nephilim as characters are only slightly less boring than alpha werewolves and sparkly vampires.
Lets see how the next one goes - later.
Profile Image for April.
453 reviews
December 9, 2017
Ok if very short. Probably all three novellas would make a decent book
Profile Image for Anastasia.
108 reviews
March 29, 2019
I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. I don't know if I'll continue reading the series.
Profile Image for Scorpio-of-Autumn.
31 reviews18 followers
January 29, 2016
This was a free book on the kindle store I ended up finishing. That alone should explain the four-star rating, as I don't finish free books I don't like. Unless it's so bad, it's funny. I do have mixed feelings about this novella, but overall it was a very enjoyable read.

Just A Few Things I Took Issue With:

- The first chapter was off-putting. Nothing about the world is set up very well. Portia kills a monster we never hear from again, she speaks to her ghost-lover, and that's about it. Luckily, though, the world ended up being fleshed out bit-by-bit throughout; but that's only because I chose to continue after a confusing beginning.

- I went into this expecting a medieval fantasy. Then, in the first few pages, Portia hops on her 'motorized cycle' and I'm like: "Wait, this is set in medieval times, right? She's using a crossbow and using magic!" Well, I can only guess that this world is a very mish-mash cobbling of the medieval era and steampunk technology. At times, this was insanely confusing, but the point came across well-enough. It just needed waaay more explaining.

- I can't put it into words, but everything (as I said above) felt wishy-washy and hazy when it came to world building. Why do they have electricity and gasoline-fueled vehicles, but they use crossbows and rely on fire for light and warmth? Is it supposed to be some weird "in-between" stage of the dark ages and a steampunk-like Renaissance? If so, that's a kick-ass idea! But I'm not sure if it is because of flimsy world-building.

- The theasuarus is abused in the prose. So many, many big words in here that felt out of place. I have a large vocabulary, and even I didn't know half the adjectives used in here.

- There were several typos/misspellings. Especially towards the ending.

What I Wish It Had:

- I wish it were longer. Most of my other problems could've been resolved if the author had fleshed out her world and her characters more. It's sad, because I really liked the pair of lovers in this book. This is the first piece of LGBTQ literature I've read, and I enjoyed it. Tell me more about Portia and Imogen, please! Don't just hint at it!

- More world building. Yes, I'll say it again because it's this book's biggest problem. WHY exactly was WHAT were all the experiments with the half-angel children? What made Portia special when she didn't even live with them? What made Imogen so special?

- Imogen's backstory. I want to know more about this girl. I found her history much more fascinating than Portia's. Going back to the bullet point above, I wish the book was longer; maybe starting from Portia and Imogen's childhoods (from their own POVs) and telling in detail the ways of the Nephilim and the Gyony and all the good stuff that wasn't really explained. Show them falling in love . Show us Imogen's death and the aftermath it left. I cared about this couple somewhat separated by death (I adore this concept, it's so tradgic!), but I would have been 100% invested if I knew more about them before that).

- Short, but true:

Final Verdict:

- I'll continue this series, and I have my fingers crossed that the issues I've brought up here will be fixed in later installments. Sara, I really like the ideas you presented here; but I'm craving more info and depth on Portia and Imogen. Hopefully, you won't disappoint me!
111 reviews
March 10, 2017
A good read

A very good read, moves along nicely. Well written , a mixture of mythology,Greek,Hindu and Christian may have influenced the author,which is not a bad thing. Reminds me of Rider Haggard the Victorian novelist.
Keep up the good work.
Profile Image for Colleen.
596 reviews2 followers
November 13, 2014
I have sympathy for this book, even as I felt like my time was being wasted by reading it -- it's a very, very quick read, luckily. I can't quite remember on what recommendation I picked this up dirt cheap on Amazon. But I can remember many years of writing similar kinds of things: set-ups that had very little invested in the world-building or character-building or anything else that wasn't the 'hook'-y idea that had started me writing something. (Granted I'm probably still doing this; the only point here is that I can look back with better hindsight.)

This tried to be a couple things - a steampunk(ish) lesbian(ish) demon-hunting(ish) story... in which grand plot twists came around because the author knew that was the backstory to be unveiled, rather than flowing out of anything to do with the characters; where nothing was developed enough to make us really care about any of the characters (why the hell did the heroine have a problem with freezing when it was time to shoot demons? just because she should be a Warrioress with a Weakness?)

Anyway. It was a competent beginning-to-end novel; nothing was objectively wrong with the plot the book followed; it just didn't have a lot of soul, and wasn't an absorbing read.
Profile Image for Donald Gorman.
Author 14 books17 followers
December 20, 2010
the author spins a fascinating tale of fantasy, wizardry and magic. there are elements of a harry potter-ish theme mixed with a steamy sense of erotica. harvey paints a beautiful portrait of mysticism and evil with colorful, lush prose that draws you in and holds you captive throughout this short but enthralling ride through vivid scenery with adept precision. still, she maintains a casual ease that makes the story float on air. the classic conflict between good and evil is fought with spirits, angels, necromancy and the like.....and it's all laced with just the right dose of spicy lesbian erotica.....making the story enticing and alluring. harvey is a very capable and promising new author. and if you like your fantasy sagas of ghosts, dark magic and mind control spelled out in articulate, rich, lush prose by a talented, worthy storyteller....with a decisively erotic edge....this is a book you will certainly enjoy. i look forward to seeing more of sara m. harvey's work. i'm sure she has many a tale to tell. and i'm sure she will continue to tell them in a way that will captivate and intrigue....
Profile Image for KV Taylor.
Author 22 books35 followers
March 15, 2011
Really, I liked it better than 3 stars--yet 4 seems a little overboard. Sara M. Harvey is a great writer, I can't wait to read the second installment. The story is short, full of action, and peopled with a small cast of truly interesting and wonderful characters.

I think all that held it back for me was that the central relationship, that between Portia and Imogen, didn't feel real for me until the end. We're dropped into their lives AFTER a lot of action has already happened, and they keep telling us they love each other, but we're not really shown anything but tension. By the middle of the book, and DEFINITELY at the end, I felt it. But that one thing started out rocky for me, and since it's so central, I had a hard time with it.

Don't let it stop you reading this, though. You'll devour it all at once, odds are. The world is beautiful, the setup skillful, and I had tears in my eyes at least once. Impressive for a novella, I think anyone would say! Also, the art is totally gorgeous.
Profile Image for Laylah Hunter.
Author 29 books49 followers
July 25, 2013
3.5, mostly on the grounds that I think this suffered from being a novella instead of a novel; it didn't have room for as much worldbuilding or as much nuance of character as it could have, and that did it some harm. I did really appreciate that Portia's love for Imogen is not an issue for anyone in the narrative -- it simply *is*, without any need for a lesson on the evils of homophobia. Also quite fond of Portia's resourcefulness in fights, and the way that it really does feel like she's had some training. I like a girl who improvises weapons in emergencies.

(I have a feeling I'm going to have to take my own medicine here and make more of an effort to write longer stories myself; if this frustration is what I'm leaving readers with, then I need to get to work on that.)
Profile Image for DeAnna Knippling.
Author 163 books259 followers
October 11, 2011
I started out not being terribly sure about this; too many unexplained things were happening at once. However...


The story of a Steampunk Buffy haunted by ghosts (literally) and undermined worse by her lack of self-confidence than by the betrayals of everything she holds dear.

I think I went through the last 3/4 of the book with the word "No!" on my lips the entire time, like when someone's telling you a particularly juicy piece of gossip. I only wished it had been much, much longer.
Profile Image for World of Diversity Fiction.
34 reviews12 followers
May 31, 2015
Notice: The reviewer has purchase its own copy and shared a honest review at World of Diversity Fiction

Title: The Convent of the Pure (The Blood of the Angels, #1)
Author: Sara M. Harvey
Cover Artist: Melissa Gay
Publisher: Apex Publications
Reviewer: Sean
Genre: Fantasy
Pairing: Lesbian
Length: Novella
Heat Rating: ♨
Rating: ★★★★½

The rest of the review can be read at World of Diversity Fiction.
Profile Image for Jodi Davis.
58 reviews11 followers
April 6, 2010
Not a fan.

It's not that I'm NOT a horror fan - or sometimes like torture porn or some random tentacles - but this book just didn't hit any of my attractions and then also hit a few of my squicks.

Well written, for the most part - so, others may enjoy it more than I did, it doesn't really have any inherent big issues that aren't things I just personally don't like.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,015 reviews9 followers
January 2, 2012
A promising beginning, but I'm simply not sufficiently motivated to finish it, at least not for now
Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews

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