Monday, October 10, 2011
Review: Angels of Darkness with Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook and Sharon Shinn
Nalini Singh's story Angel's Wolf fits in with her Hunter Guild series, and with its happily ever after it further solidifies my belief that this series is leaning more toward paranormal romance and moving away from urban fantasy. This is a romance between the vampire Noel who in an earlier installment was torn into a bloody pulp at the Refuge, and Nimra the Angel who rules the Louisiana territory.
Noel is assigned to Nimra's court to investigate an attempted assassination by someone close to her and while investigating her closest friends and allies the two fall in love. Noel falls rather quickly for this angel who begins the process of healing his deep psychological wounds, and Nimra is taken with the arrogant and rather forceful Noel. Although we are told that as an Angel Nimra is terrifying, there is really little proof to this claim. Instead Nimra is shown to be a rather sweet and quite human-like angel who needs love and gives love and tenderness to those who are under her care. Noel's character was more daunting in this story. The romance is enjoyable and engaging, but not terribly dark or exciting. Grade B-
Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews is an excellent beginning to a new series by this writing team. I love the world building in this novella with it's touch of science fiction, genetic experimentation and mutations, that allows for travel or ripping between the known universe and pieces of that universe. There's a war with humans unknowingly in the middle and in danger of extermination if the Ordinators win. This is the world that Karina and her daughter Emily are pulled into one sunny day on their way back from a school field trip -- a violent world of monsters, blood and war.
Karina is poisoned and dying when a monster and three men come to the rescue, she's given a choice: die or become a blood slave to the monster and she and her daughter Emily will live. She agrees. This story is full of interesting characters, including Karina whose rather violent and touching relationship with the monster that is Lucas develops as the story moves along. The world, characters and plot are all dark(ish) and rather violent. This is different from the Andrews writing team's two other series but I think it's just as great! I want more. Grade B+
Sharon Shinn's Nocturne, the story of an angel set in her religious-based world of angels, humans and the god Jovah focuses on two wounded souls. I enjoyed the interesting world building, which I think is explained well enough to pique the interest of a new reader like me. Moriah, the daughter of an angel and an angel-seeker is running and hiding from the angels and a powerful lord. She is working at a school tucked away from everything, out in the desert. She feels safe there even after her curiosity takes her to the head mistress house and Corban, a wounded angel. I really wish that the characters in this story had been as interesting as the world itself, but I'm afraid they just didn't work out for me. Corban pitied himself incessantly and I don't understand how Moriah could stand him after a while. And although there's actually a sex scene in this story, there's a sense of detachment to it and to the ending that left me cold. I do wonder, however, if other stories in this series are better. Grade C
Meljean Brook's novella Ascension is set in her Guardian world. I love the fact that Brook didn't waste the pages in this novella, as she develops a romance plus further explains the world building in this paranormal romance series. Marc Revoire is in charge of guarding the Midwest and senses that there's a demon at work in the small town of Riverbend. Radha comes to Riverbend to ensure that Marc is well after she last saw him alone and distraught as Caelum fell to pieces. Centuries ago, Radha and Marc shared a deep friendship but it all fell apart when they became lovers, and Radha hasn't spoken to Marc since. Now the two of them team up to find the demon and in the process work out their relationship.
I liked both characters in this novella and the way they talked through long standing issues that stood in the way of their passionate love for each other. More so, I'm quite happy about the fact that Brook finally explains the reason behind the Ascension that left the Guardians so vulnerable. In explaining his reasoning for staying behind, Marc also explains quite well some of the Rules and how they apply to Guardians -- it clarifies a few points in a simple and direct way. So, although I thought the demon hunting part of the story was a bit weak, this story as a whole worked for me. Grade B
Overall this is a good anthology with one story that really fits the title "Angels of Darkness" quite well, and three where the angels are not so dark. However, the excellent, creative world building found in all four stories makes this anthology worth the read. I enjoyed it.
Category: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Series: See below
Publisher/Release Date: Berkley/October 4, 2011 - Kindle Edition
"Angel's Wolf" (Guild Hunters, #4.5) by Nalini Singh
"Alphas: Origins" (Alphas Series, #0.5) by Ilona Andrews
"Nocturne" (Samaria Series) by Sharon Shinn
"Ascension" (The Guardians, #7.5) by Meljean Brook