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The Convent of the Pure Paperback – April 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Blood of Angels Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvey (A Year and a Day) cobbles together gothic steampunk fantasy and fluffy lesbian erotica in this romantic, necromantic tale. Two years after Imogen Gyony's death, her spirit still frequently visits her lover, Portia. Both are Nephilim, born of a celestial and a mortal being and raised to be warriors in an age-old fight against the demonic forces out to destroy humanity. When demons capture Portia, she escapes with crossbow blazing and takes on the fiends one by one, determined to bring Imogen back from the dead and save her Nephilim chapter house from being taken over by demon-influenced mages. Readers who aren't put off by the cheesecake cover illustration of buff, busty Portia will appreciate the mix of heat, horror and humor. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


While Harvey's treatment of imagery is a tad heavy-handed, her language and word choice are impeccable. Most fantasy writers who employ a "realistic" style shun adjectives, but Harvey uses them to great affect without over-saturating the writing. The Convent of the Pure reads lightly and unencumbered, with vivid scenes and images as signposts along the way.

The hero is called to action, has initial success, sees the undefeatable monster and faces a setback, gets help and defeats the monster, and then returns to the people. Yes, the story is familiar, but it's also well-written, and perhaps most importantly, it's fun. -- Nick DeMarino, SFReader.com --SFReader.com - Nick DeMarino, November 6, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Apex Publications; First Edition edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981639097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981639093
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,925,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"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.
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Format: Paperback
The premise: this steampunk fantasy is steeped in the Biblical legends of the Nephilim and is the first installment of a trilogy. Portia is sent to an abandoned convent to investigate news of a demon. She's still reeling from the incident that cost her lover Imogen her life and has little to no confidence in her abilities or magic. Fortunately, the ghost of Imogen is always at Portia's side, giving her guidance when she needs it. However, it may not be enough, as what Portia hunts is far greater and more dangerous than anyone ever imagined, and worst of all, her dead lover might be involved in a plot that will destroy her.

My Rating: there's potential in this book, no doubt, and certainly, Harvey is dealing with original material when it comes to the fantasy genre. Using Biblical mythology/legends that embrace more than simply angels and demons can make for a fascinating read, but my wish is that rather than writing a novella, the author had really THROWN herself into the world and created a story that was bigger and more epic. I wanted to like the book far more than I did, and I blame my distance on the fact that I'm thrown into the action and expected to care about characters that I don't even know in crisis. The info-dumping, while extremely necessary to get through the book, is unfortunate because I'd rather experience and discover the world, not have it dumped on me. It's a fast read that reminds me of a hybrid between Harry Potter and the film The Orphanage in terms of setting and world-building, which is kind of fun. But I firmly believe the novella (or a trilogy of) is the wrong form for this epic set of ideas, of world-building, and even the level of relationships that have formed between the characters.
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Format: Paperback
This steampunk fantasy is centered around the relationship between Portia Gyony, a nephilim demon-slayer, and the ghost of her lover, Imogen.

The relationship takes center stage here, as Portia works to unravel a web of conspiracy based in an isolated convent full of sinister secrets. Portia failed to protect Imogen, and she blames herself for her lover's death. Imogen, meanwhile, has been bound to Portia in spirit form, an ever-present voice with the ability to take solid form briefly and with great effort. As one might imagine, this can be awkward. But it's also their only hope of staying together, and neither lover is ready to let go.

Author Sara Harvey does a nice job of getting into her protagonist's head, and she also delivers on the action scenes. Her villains are fun, especially her wonderfully nasty succubus, which she does in a nicely original interpretation.

The book is sensual, but is more action and intrigue than sex. The complexity of the characters is nice to see, particularly in a genre where so many authors never use "lesbian" as the sole defining trait of a character and never manage to get beyond it. Portia and Imogen are multifaceted personalities that bring a lot of emotional depth to the relationship.

The world has good depth to it, and there is clearly a lot more of it to be explored, and really, the main weakness of the book is its length. Or rather, its lack thereof. The events and revelations come fast and furious, and I found myself wishing I'd had more time to get to know Portia and Imogen, and their world, before the plot developments hit. There is also a lot of world development, based on biblical mythology, that is just barely hinted at. A sequel is definitely in order. A prequel might be even more fun.
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