Series: Angels of the Dark, Book 1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 416 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle
Almost Wicked Enough
Turning eighteen wasn't quite the awesome good time Annabelle Miller thought it would be. She woke on that special day to searing, blinding pain, and before she could think straight, saw her parents slaughtered, cut down by a monster out of a nightmare. A creature spewed from the pits of hell.
Happy birthday to her.
Convicted of their murders, Annabelle has spent four years in a nuthouse for the criminally insane, fighting off pervert doctors, bullying orderlies, and a never-ending wave of monsters that, despite heavy narcotics or maybe because of them, only Annabelle can see. She is alone, desperate, and afraid she's just as insane as everyone thinks she is.
Seeing the huge guy with the gorgeous wings pop up in her room one night after a particularly bad attack doesn't exactly disabuse her of that notion, either.
Zacharel has once again drawn his boss's displeasure. In his zeal to dispatch demons, he's been less than conscientious about the safety of the human race. Humans have died. Zacharel doesn't much care about collateral damage. His boss, however, does. In punishment...and as a last chance to keep his wings...Zacharel has been given command of a squad of warriors just as close to their final fall as he is and is ordered to deal with a demon infestation at an institution for the criminally insane.
Investigation leads him to the room of a desperate human woman who is clearly the focus of the demons' interest. Not that Zacharel cares. In fact, he has no conscience, no feelings, no passions or desires. He's unmoved by her plight. So he really has no idea why rescuing her becomes so important to him. Or why he would ever, in a million years, entertain the ridiculous notion that she could somehow rescue him right back.
I'm a Showalter fan from way back, and consider myself a LotU fan even though the last couple of them didn't quite rock my world. Still, I was happy to hear about this spinoff series, and think there's much in this kick-starter to like. The world is comfortingly familiar, and the sometimes conflicted relationship between Zacharel and Annabelle had moments that were rife with humor and a lot of fun to read.
But there were rough spots for me, too.
As much as I love winged romance heroes, those that are angelic in nature are either loved or hated based on the level of Christianity-based mythology included in the story. I try to keep religion as far away from my reading entertainment as possible, and I'm leery of having those lines crossed whenever angels are included. Doesn't make for the most relaxing read, even when my lines aren't crossed.
I was fine with the angel warriors as seen in LotU, but here they're the main characters, so their mythos will get a much broader focus with greater detail in this series. Thankfully, in this book things were mostly okay, but it could go still go either way. There were a couple of things that didn't thrill me, especially the Zacharel-touted concept that faith defines reality, but I didn't feel like I was being proselytized at the whole time, or hit over the head with the religion stick.
I'm going with tentative acceptance at this point.
I was slightly...not disappointed, really, so much as underwhelmed by the plot of the book, though. I've been alternately amused and intrigued by the emotionally bereft Zacharel since his introduction in LotU, so I was hoping for a bit more depth of character and story than the plot provided. It wasn't bad, but it was a bit two dimensional, and I found myself paying more attention to some of Zacharel's warriors and their backstory than I was to his emotional thaw and the demon trouble with Annabelle.
I liked Annabelle as a character. She was a fighter, a survivor. I liked that about her very much. I just wasn't crazy about her as the romantic heroine for Zacharel. Anabelle was only eighteen when her world exploded, just twenty-two when Zacharel gets her out of the institution, and that seemed painfully young and inexperienced compared to Zacharel's long life and jaded demeanor. It sort of messed with my comfort level with the romance in places.
The conflict with the demon who killed Anabelle's parents was, again, not horrible but didn't really wow me, either. It did provide plenty of action in the story, which I liked, but I thought the Bad Guy's identity was painfully obvious from the very beginning. That robbed the big reveal in the climax of the book of a lot of the impact it could have had, and it completely stripped one pivotal scene of the intended emotional angst, making what should have been a gut-wrenching choice feel more like a dull no-brainer.
As a spinoff series debut, this book got the job done thanks to the continuity with the LotU world and some of its characters. My favorite parts of the read, though, introduced and featured the angels serving (grudgingly as that may be) under Zacharel. They are so fabulously flawed and deeply disturbed. I look forward to catching up with them again soon.