Nalini Singh introduces readers to a world of beauty and blood lust, where angels hold sway over vampires. Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she’s the best—but she doesn’t know if she’s good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, only one thing is clear—failure is not an option…even if the task is impossible. Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad. The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other…and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break…
I celebrate another year of blogging with a review of an urban fantasy series that blew me away. The pace by which I devoured it was probably outmatched only by the action in the books. The first book came in rather weak but the sequels more than made up for it. I’m glad I saw the second book first, enjoyed it, and decided to complete the series by going back to the beginning.
In this universe archangels are angels that have become so powerful they can destroy a city with a thought. They rule over humans from their aeries in the world’s biggest cities. The setting is still the 21st century. Only instead of the rich and famous, the paparazzi prefer to follow angels around, while fans use social media to rave over their favorite angels. The archangels tolerate it but every now and then they set examples to make sure that humans know without a doubt who have the power over life and death.
Vampires also populate the world. They are humans who have chosen to embrace the immortality offered by angels in exchange for 100 years of service. Over time, a Guild evolved to monitor and apprehend rogue vampires. Hunters born with the ability to track vampires through a psychic scent are the most effective Guild Hunters. In New York City, Elena is considered the best.
Out of the blue, she is summoned by the Archangel of Northern America for a job–to track down an archangel gone insane. Since no human is a match to any angel, Elena is naturally concerned for her life and capability to take on the job. But Gabriel insists. And when an Archangel insists, one has little choice.
That Gabriel is physically magnificent doesn’t help Elena’s equanimity at all.
Here starts the core story line in the series, which is the love story between an archangel and a human. Because of their power and age (archangels are thousands of years old), they usually evolve to become cold and otherworldly. Gabriel himself is ruthless. Oftentimes, he is cruel. To him, humans are passing lives. His duty is to the greater order. There are times Gabriel hurt Elena despite or because of his attraction. He eventually starts to become in touch with humanity through his love for Elena and this growth we witness over the course of many books (currently at seven).
Elena herself is a complicated package. She has a past filled with blood. Her mother and two sisters were murdered, and she suspects the killer targeted her family because of her born hunter blood. She fights her attraction for the archangel, but gives in to Gabriel during the middle of the first book following a tense hunt for the rogue archangel who has been butchering young women and drinking their blood.
For me, the romance between Gabriel and Elena is not the selling point of this series. I find Elena a bit uncouth in the first book. Supposedly, Archangels are lethal rulers of the world, and yet she seems careless of this fact, deliberately pissing off the Archangel and displaying a singular absence of good survival sense, which I think the lead expert in a professional group should have especially when dealing with temperamental clients.
I am also not impressed with the insta-love, which does not seem to do justice to the monumental event of mortal-immortal pairing. To me the romance is rushed, given as Gabriel shook off millennia of conditioning in just a matter of a few days of attraction.
I wish there is a build-up composed of several books where Elena and Gabriel solve mysteries together as their attraction unfolds into something profound to the point that Gabriel would rather fall and die than let Elena go–which is what happens in just the first book.
What hooked me to this series are the world-building and the individual murder mysteries in each book supporting the story arc of the archangels evolving into something so much more terrifying. It was like the author structured the first book as a paranormal romance to get the courtship out of the way so she can proceed to develop the universe with Gabriel and Elena established as partners.
Which works for me, but if I had read the first book first I might not have moved forward with the series because it is really weak in comparison to the rest of the books, which contain immense power play, cataclysmic violence and the eruption of ancient forces that historically signify the end of civilization. I enjoyed reading those. The destruction was awesome and unbelievable. In the second book, an archangel flexing of muscles led to the destruction of Beijing! In book six, New York is besieged by zombies.
My imagination zeroed in on the possible smaller stories taking place out of view from the high vantage point of archangel war. For instance, there is a cruise ship that unknowingly carried the infected. When it reached New York City, all the passengers have been slaughtered or transformed into zombies. The horror in the ship alone would make a great story.
The couple struggle to contain the mayhem. Though Gabriel gained something by bonding with a mortal she also gave him some of her mortality, an exchange both weakening and strengthening them.
The series features other interesting characters, three of which got their own books: vampire Dmitri and his millennium anguish over the murder of his family; spymaster Jason with wings like midnight; and psychic Guild Hunter Ash and Cajun vampire Janvier.
Dmitri and Jason are members of Gabriel’s Seven, his elite army of angels and vampires. I suspect the other five will also have their own stories. I look forward to Illium’s and Naasir’s. Illium is a blue-winged angel with a fascination for mortals while Naasir is a vicious vampire with cat-like silver eyes.
On a funny note, most of the time, the reader gets to know these other male characters through Elena’s eyes, as if she ogles them all the time.
Of all the romances I enjoyed most is the one between Ash and Janvier, featured in the latest book. Now that’s the pursuit that makes a love story exciting. The relationship of Ash and Janvier began oddly. They met when she was hunting him for reneging on an agreement with an angel. She chases him, almost gets him, only for her to catch him making friends again with his formerly disgruntled client. She then gets another order to hunt him down for the same thing to happen again. What she doesn’t realize is that Janvier is playing with her, engaging her with his own version of courtship. So, actually, he is the one chasing her. In five years of love-hate spiced with witty dialogue they become close friends. He would like it to become more but she runs from him.
And to think I commented so negatively when I first encountered this author, a Guild Hunter short story, in another book. I guess it can be risky putting out snippets alongside other works because readers might fail to appreciate it without the context of the series.
Read that review. Guild Hunter Series
- Angels’ Blood
- Archangel’s Kiss
- Archangel’s Consort
- Archangel’s Blade
- Archangel’s Storm
- Archangel’s Legion
- Archangel’s Shadows