End of Days is the final book in the Penryn & the End of Days trilogy by Susan Ee, a post-apocalyptic, supernatural set of thrillers for young adults. In this dark urban fantasy, angels of Judeo-Christian lore herald the foretold apocalypse and have wreaked havoc on the earth, killing and destroying wherever possible. Unlike your typical dystopian YA fare, this series is clean in some ways, but insidiously dark and twisted in others. A true horror for young and old adults.
In Angelfall, Penryn, a human teenage girl, saves the life of an angel who had his wings cut off by other angels. Making a pact, Penryn and Raffe (also known as the archangel Raphael) help each other make it to the Aerie, the angel stronghold, to rescue Penryn’s sister and get Raffe’s wings sown back on. In World After, Penryn and the human resistance try to rescue the humans held captive by the angels on Alacatraz while Raffe plots his vengeance on the angels who betrayed him. They find each other at the end when the angels are bested by a ‘daughter of man’ who can strangely wield an angel’s sword in battle.
In End of Days, Penryn and Raffe are together again, and it’s obvious that both are thrilled. It’s a forbidden love that blazes hotter with each passing moment. Raffe still doesn’t have his beautiful wings of white feathers on him. In a second act of betrayal in the last book, the angel doctor put Belial’s black, leathery bat wings on Raffe, and Raffe’s wings on Belial. This was to settle a score that Belial holds against Raffe from events thousands of years prior.
Hiding his demon wings, Raffe joins Penryn in the resistance and passes for human. Almost immediately, he is called away via secret message. Things are falling apart in the Aerie, and the doctor will fix his wings, giving him his old wings back. He leaves Penryn alone and it’s a trap – but just for Penryn. A cult-like group of humans who worship the angels in self-sacrificing ways have agreed to capture Penryn, also known as the Angel Killer, and transport her to the Aerie.
In a political move by Uriel, another archangel eager to be the next Messenger, Penryn is brought before the angels to be sacrificed in retribution for her kills, further solidifying his future position as leader. He is temporarily usurped by Raffe who appears with his glorious white wings, and they escape – by entering the Pits of hell.
Susan Ee outdoes herself with her dark creativity in this third book. Just when you think it couldn’t get any weirder, any creepier – it jumps to a new level of noir.
Raffe’s backstory unfolds to explain his longstanding feud with Belial. Belial, along with the other Watchers, warrior angels who resided on Earth long ago, had fallen and were sent to the Pits, a hell reserved for the Fallen. The Watchers had been his closest friends, his strongest allies. Raffe comes to realize that they never should have been sent there. In End of Days, Raffe and Penryn travel into the Pits to rescue his brethren, but not before coming across the Consumed which are screaming heads looking for new bodies, little batlike demons called hellions, huge monstrous demons willing to make a deal, and a landscape of barren wasteland with seas of outstretched arms waiting to pull you under.
No matter how awful Belial was, you will feel for him. It’s actually quite heartbreaking. What he went through was a million times worse than what he did to Raffe. It becomes hard to blame him, to even call him a bad guy. Save that term for Uriel.
Uriel turns the story political. The apocalypse was fabricated. Everything from the giant locusts to the six-headed beasts and the boiling waters of blood – he engineered it all with help from his angel and human scientists. Since the archangel Gabriel, the Messenger who was the only angel to speak with God, was destroyed in the initial attack, there would be a vote to see which archangel was next in line for the coveted position. Uriel wanted to prove that it should be him by manipulating the evidence. But Raffe knows everything, and he just needs to prove it.
He also knows that the rule prohibiting angels from pairing with humans was wrong. The dangerous Nephilim that were supposedly created through angel-human unions never existed. But he never told anyone.
There is an epic battle royale between angels, humans, and demons at the end. It revolves around a talent show on a bridge, flashing lights, heavy metal music, and sharks. You are going to have to read it to believe it. Great finale!