Angels of Darkness anthology

>> Thursday, May 09, 2013

TITLE: Angels of Darkness
AUTHORS: Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Sharon Shinn & Meljean Brook

PAGES: 406

TYPE: Paranormal romance, fantasy romance, urban fantasy
SERIES: All are part of different series, see review for details

Tales of alpha angels...from four alpha authors.

They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.

I'm not a big anthology fan, and often end up reading just the one story in them. This one, however, had 3 authors I love in it.

Angel's Wolf by Nalini Singh

In the spellbinding universe of the Guild Hunters, a vampire becomes obsessed with the seductive angel who rules the Louisiana territory. But in her court, all is not what it appears to be.
Singh is one of the authors I love, but mainly for her Psy/Changeling books. This short story is part of her Guild Hunters series, which I stopped reading after the first two. It's a good series, but a bit too Urban Fantasy for me.

Angel's Wolf, however, is very much romance. The plot is a bit of a whodunnit, rather than revolving around angel politics and turf wars, and the brutality and violence are toned down. Noah is an vampire who's still mentally recovering from a horrendous attack. He's sent by the archangel Raphael to help out Nimra, the angel who holds part of Raphael's territory. Someone's tried to murder Nimra, and Noah is to do some discreet digging.

I've got somewhat mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, it's a sweet romance, the mystery plot is interesting and the world-building is spare but well-integrated. On the other, Nimra is a bit too... nice. It feels weird, considering how successful Singh was in earlier books in making Raphael convicing as a creature who's thousands of years old and immensely powerful. You could describe Nimra in just that way, and yet she comes across as a perfectly human and nice girl. I did like that Noah doesn't feel any need to assert dominance over her, just to hold his own, but I can't but feel she wasn't allowed to be too scary because she's a female angel, and that wouldn't have been acceptable.


Alphas: Origins by Ilona Andrews

A woman is kidnapped into a world divided by a superhuman civil war. As the captive of an irresistibly dangerous male, she has two choices: submit and become a pawn, or take hold of her own destiny.
I tried to read this one, but my main reaction was 'blergh!'. I've read Andrews before (Magic Bites) and my reaction was similar. I could see how clever the book was and how technically well done, but it sort of turned my stomach and didn't interest me. Considering that, I stopped after about 20 pages.

MY GRADE: It was a DNF.

Nocturne by Sharon Shinn

Accepting a position in a secluded and whispered-about mansion, a woman soon discovers the source of its mystery: the blind, tormented angel who lives there, and whose secrets could now destroy them both.
I adore Shinn's Samaria series, and this short story, while not up to the level of the full-length books, was good.

Moriah is a human woman who's taken refuge at a secluded and isolated school for young offenders. We understand from the beginning that she has some reason to avoid angels, but when she realises that the 'ghost' in one of the nearby service building is a blind angel, she can't resist approaching him.

This is a story with no real external plot, just about Moriah basically pushing and prodding the angel, Corban, into not just giving up on life, and realising there's still a lot he can do. They fall in love, too, but I found that aspect a lot less compelling than the story of Corban moving beyond self-pity, and his crisis of faith because of the circumstances that blinded him, and of Moriah realising she, too, can come back to real life.


Ascension by Meljean Brook

When vampires disappear from a community he's protecting, a world-weary Guardian doesn't know what evil he's hunting, but he'd rather hunt alone than accept help from his ex-lover and fellow Guardian, Radha. But Radha refuses to leave him, because she's determined not just to help him save the community...but to save him.
I've been doing a reread of the entire Guardians series before Michael's book, but this is one I managed to miss, so it was actually a first-time read. Reading it so soon after the other books, I had them very present in my mind: Radha, the Guardian who dyes her skin blue and Marc, the loner who takes care of the US Midwest.

Of course, there's much more to them than we'd previously seen. It turns out that not long after becoming a Guardian, Marc became friends with Radha, and after a while, they became lovers. He, however, had his heart set on becoming this celibate warrior, and that didn't end well. For over a century they have avoided each other (in fact, Marc has avoided all the other Guardians for some time).

And then, during the events in Demon Marked, Radha realises Marc is not just a loner, he's lonely. As this story starts, she shows up in his area, purportedly to help him investigate who's been killing vampires in a small town, but really to check on him.

This story worked for me on every level. Often when characters have been apart for such a long time I get a sort of bitter feeling, a sense of what a waste it was that they didn't sort things out earlier. But with Radha and Marc, that wasn't the case. It didn't feel like a misunderstanding that could have just been sorted by a nice chat, it was more a matter of Marc having to do a bit of growing up and changing of his own, before they were right for each other. As a romance, it's very satisfying.

And then there's the mystery of what's happening to the vampires, which is suprisingly surprising. I thought as I was reading it that it wasn't meant to be anything special, just a little McGuffin-type thing to have Marc and Radha do while they fell in love. It wasn't, it was interesting and fun in its own right, and the resolution was very, very cool.

I also loved the tlimpses of what it was like when there were so many more Guardians, and how it wasn't all lovey-dovey all the time. Just imagine, there was such a thing as falling in with a bad Guardian crowd!

MY GRADE: A strong B+.

A strong enough anthology. Rather than a simple average across grades, I think it's more a B overall.


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