Friday, February 20, 2009
Review: Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh
I've been a fan of Nalini Singh since her first paranormal romance, Slave to Sensation. Since then, I have enjoyed her Psy/Changeling series, especially the world building. When I found out that Ms. Singh was coming out with a new series, an Urban Fantasy centered around angel's, Angels' Blood became one highly anticipated release for me. I went into reading this book with little knowledge of what it would be about and ended up being absolutely delighted with the story as it progressed.
Elena Deveraux is a vampire hunter. She works as a hunter for the Guild, a company that goes after rouge vampires, hunts them down, and sends them back to their sire's--the immortal Angel's. Elena's hunter skills are good. She uses her heightened senses to track vampires and is highly effective at her job, so effective that her aptitude puts her under The Archangel of New York's radar. The beautifully cruel archangel, Raphael, needs Elena's talent as a hunter to track down a rouge. He enlists her (more like commands her) to find a very dangerous rouge that is terrorizing Raphael's New York territory.
Elena thinks the job will be a piece of cake. She has tracked down many vampire rouges before with little problem. She soon finds out that the mad-man that she's after is terrifyingly different from any other before him. And he has the power to destroy the world. Elena, with the help of the extremely seductive Raphael, sets out to find the rouge and stop him before his madness brings the world to destruction. Along the way, secrets that change life as Elena knows it are revealed and a bond, frowned upon by Elena herself, is forged between she and Raphael.
Unlike most recent Urban Fantasy, Angels' Blood is not told from the first person female perspective. It is told in third person and the point of view, while mainly Elena's, also extends to Raphael, and there are short passages where the reader gets a glimpse into the rouge's mind. The world that Angels' Blood takes place in is something like an alternate earth. Everything is as we know it, the difference being that angel's rule the world and they have the ability to make vampires. So there are three species of people: angel's, vampires and humans. Like Ms. Singh's Psy/Changeling series, this one is filled with fully realized, multicultural characters. Also like her paranormal romance series, this one is great on the world building, which is always a plus when reading Urban Fantasy.
Angels' Blood is equally plot and character driven. Neither point is overshadowed by the other. I will admit that it took me a few chapters in before I began to warm to Elena. For me, her character was a little off putting in the beginning, but when I finally began to understand Elena, I grew to connect with the character. Raphael, on the other hand, I liked from the jump. Angel's are known to be cruel and harsh to a fault, and Raphael fit that mold. But there was more to him than that, as was shown through his relationship with Elena. The supporting characters were fleshed out and I'm not sure if there are plans to feature any of them in the future, but I'm sure that a few of them would make really great leads in their own books.
The story does not skimp on the gore and is not for the squeamish. It delves into the gritty, displaying the killer's work in grotesque detail. I'm not a fan of gore for the sake of gore, and luckily, there is none of that here. The descriptions serve to show just how far gone the killer's mind is. It also ups the creepy factor and the stakes for Elena and Raphael. On the flip side of that is the romance. For those who like their UF to have a little romance, this one fits the bill. Elena and Raphael have chemistry for days and their relationship has a slow, tantalizing build with a payoff that makes it worth the wait. The romance plays a great counterpoint to the darker side of the story, balancing out the good with the bad.
Angels' Blood is full of surprises and twists and turns. Truth's are slowly revealed through the story, successfully fleshing out the world and the characters. The ending, while unexpected, was very pleasing. There is resolution enough that the reader won't be left unfulfilled, at the same time there are a few open threads that should carry nicely into the next installment. Angel's Blood was an excellent first entry in the Guild Hunter series. All around satisfying. I'm eagerly anticipating Angel's Kiss. Grade A-.
Review based on advance review copy. Visit Nalini Singh's site. Read an excerpt here.