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15 February 2010

Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

I really love Nalini Singh, and I have to thank Ms S for raving about her in book club. I read the Psy-Changeling books and really enjoyed them. I always meant to read the Guild Hunter’s series (damn those preview chapters!) but hadn’t yet picked up Angel’s Blood. I heard Archangel’s Kiss was being released and bit the bullet and bought them in one fell swoop. It is lucky I did, because the second I finished book one, I had to start book two LOL I am doing a Global Challenge and need to read two books from Oceania – I decided to include one Aussie and one Kiwi. I decided that Nalini would be one of those authors, because Archangel’s Kiss has just been released and I was going to comment on it anyway. That, and the fact that Nalini is a New Zealander LOL

Rather than just writing a conventional book review, I thought I would break it up into sections that I thought were relevant:

The Guild Hunter Universe

The world that the Guild Hunter series is set in is very much like our own, except for the zero world* component – that is, that angels are a major playing force, and their minions are the vampires. These are not religious novels. The angels are a bit more like the titans. They aren’t particularly heavenly, but they are powerful. There are normal angels, and there are archangels. Archangels are the more ancient and powerful of the two, and they run the council, controlling territories. They rule the world with an iron fist and through deflection and subterfuge. You couldn’t call the angels kind saintly beings, but winged beings of grace, power and control. Think of the deities of old, and you are on the right path – most especially because some of those deities were actually angels. The angels create vampires (as a biological imperative) and they are their minions. They are the bodyguards, the enforcers, the housekeepers, the business mangers, the lovers - and depending on the angel - the slaves. The vampires do have to drink blood, they do go on killing sprees, and that is why the Guild Hunters exist. However, they are not creatures of an evil or demonic genesis, but created by the angels. The humans tend to go about their own business, unless they are groupies or wannabees. The are seen as weak beings with such a fleeting lifespan and aside from taking blood, they don't seem to have much place in the lives of the angels or vampires. The exception to this is the Guild Hunters. They are employed to hunt down vampires who escape their vampire masters – either on the run, or on a killing spree.

The Characters

[Spoiler Warning about wings if you haven't read Angel’s Blood]
The two main characters who met in the first book are Elena and Raphael (can you tell which one is the angel?). Elena was a Guild Hunter who was employed to hunt an archangel who had gone rouge. Raphael was the archangel in control of the territory. Its more of an urban fantasy than a paranormal romance, despite the romance between them. At the end of the first book, Elena is made into an angel, something which hasn’t happened for millennia, and Archangel’s Kiss is set just after she wakes up from the coma. I am not going to go into the plot in any detail, you can discover it yourself if you read the book. Basically Elena and Raphael are trying to understand their relationship, whilst their world is in chaos. People are being killed, a child is stolen and traumatised, there are plots against the archangels, as well as one archangel playing with things best left alone.

The Interesting Stuff

I have to say, I was absolutely fascinated by the WINGS! I've read fantasy/paranormal romance books about “angels” before, but they were either wingless or the wings were always described so clinically. In Archangel’s Kiss, they are such a fascinating part of the angels. They are described so beautifully, with such attachment. They are written about in a tactile fashion, as another limb, a part of the body. Other books I have read with winged beings have been described as human forms, and the wings are just an afterthought. Nalini Singh is brilliant for describing in a fashion that is realistic yet fascinating. Another thing I love about her angels. The wings aren’t all the same. The variety of colours are terrific! And when a wing is injured they grow back in a different form (colour or pattern etc). I am just truly fascinated by Nalini's wings!!! I can't wait for the next book!

I really loved this book. I was not quiet sure what I thought of her when I started her first Psy-Changeling novel, but I can say, 9 books later, that Nalini is amongst some of my favourite authors! Her concepts are so fresh, her characters engaging, and her style has flair. I cant wait for Book Three in the Guild Hunter Series (as well as Book 8 in the Psy-Changeling Series LOL).
5/5 Stars

*Zero World is a concept originally prominent in comics, but also quite common in fantasy and science fiction. This is when the story in fiction is set in a world nearly identical to our own (or the equivalent in an earlier time period), except for one important exception. In the comics of yore, it was things like the x-men mutation. In fantasy it tends to be the inclusion of magic, the other world/s or other beings. I studied “Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror in Popular Culture” a sociology subject offered by my university department, and this was one of the core concepts that is visible in a lot of F/SF/H, and now in PR as well.


Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Archangel's Kiss. I didn't realise that wings aren't very widely treated as special in pr/uf books. I loved the romantic scenes in this book, but I was a little underwhelmed by the overarching plot. It might be that I didn't feel the pay-off made up for all the gory bits in the middle. But Singh is still one of my auto-buy authors for para rom/uf.

obsidiantears83 said...

It isn't so much that they arent treated as special, but in all the books I've read, I have found that the wings are almost mentioned as an afterthought. In the Guild Hunter books, Nalini Singh writes about them in such a tactile fashion - discribing the feelings when touched, the work needed to get them to strengthen etc. I hadn't really thought about the concept of wings until I picked up a Guild Hunter novel.

I personally think the ending was too quick and easy. There was all that build up for the Big Bad, and in the end it was such a small fight that you never really got to read about... It just sort of faded into the background. For all the build up, I would have liked it to have more of an impact, especially because she has both the main characters narrating. This one is definately more of an urban fantasy (with romance) than a paranormal romance (with urban). I agree though - Nalini Singh is an "auto-buy". I think I need new bookshelves LOL

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