Spoilers about Tantalize, Eternal, and Blessed will follow. Relatedly, while the author provides enough background information for new readers to get caught up, I'd still recommend reading this series in order: there's so much going on in this installment and so many perspective shifts that it'll be more difficult to develop emotional ties with the characters if you go in cold.
Due to his actions in the previous installments, Zachary the guardian angel is grounded (well, he has his wings, his divine radiance, and his holy sword, but he's stuck in corporeal form), and is currently serving as Quincie P. Morris'—who happens to be a neophyte* vampire—GA. Quincie, meanwhile, is still running Sanguini's—Austin's famous vampire-themed restaraunt—and dating Kieren, her wolf-hybrid** best friend, while Miranda, Zachary's formerly undead, now totally dead, girlfriend looks on from the Penultimate, the area just outside of Heaven.
Now do you see why I suggested that you start from the beginning of the series?
Anyway, Miranda notices that her childhood best friend, Lucy, has suddenly transferred schools: left the University of North Texas and taken up residency all the way across the country, at Scholomance Preparatory Academy. Which, judging by the name, is very probably run by the Devil. So she gets word to Zachary, and he, Kieren, and Quincie head off on a road trip to rescue Lucy and the other students.
That, of course, is just the beginning.
Fun stuff, as always. If you like the rest of the series, Diabolical shouldn't disappoint. The strongest aspect, as in previous installments, is in the worldbuilding. That isn't to say that any of the other aspects are weak—the characters are likable and believable, the dialogue rings true, the different voices are all distinct, and the action is fabulously entertaining—but it's the worldbuilding that really shines.
As I know I've mentioned before, I especially love the corporate hierarchy of the angels, what with their memos and endless paperwork. The introduction and description of the Penultimate (where, by the way, Miranda is reunited with her pet hamster) is lots of fun, and I thought this was especially nice:
Likewise, some holy experiences are tailored to specific faiths—how angels manifest, for example. On this side of death, seemingly contradictory belief systems coexist more comfortably.
The whole How Can You Say God Cares If He Never Takes Action? problem is satisfyingly*** addressed as well:
"The Big Boss is always there, always everywhere. But, at the same time, kind of hands-off."
"Like a divine clockmaker?"
I smile at the expression. It's inaccurate but charming. "More like really into free will. We're defined by our choices."
There are a lot of characters to keep track of, literary and pop-culture references (some obvious, some not, some household names, some obscure) on almost every page, and a whole lot happens in a short amount of time. Which are all aspects that, depending on the reader, will either be appealing or off-putting. It's just a matter of personal preference.
I'm not entirely sure if this is the very end of the series or not—there are happy endings all around, but there's certainly still room for more adventures—if it is, though, I'll miss it.
Wow. Two vampire books in two days! What is this, 2007?
*Her soul is still intact because she hasn't taken a life.
**Son of a human and a werewolf.
***Well, for this world, these characters, and this story. Other stories—Preacher, for example—offer up very different (but no-less satisfying) solutions.
Book source: ILLed through my library.