From the start, I wasn’t sure I would like this book.
Was I right?
Righto, Gentle Reader, here’s a book review for you, bit of a drunken rambling one, I find I like them best. For January I chose Angels’ Blood (Guild Hunter Book 1) by Nalini Singh for my Coop de Book.
I don’t often pick a book for the Coop without reading it first. I take my charge as your taste curator seriously.
However, this one has been on my TBR pile for ages, so I chose it with no little hesitancy. Here’s how it got onto that pile…
- This author keeps coming up on also boughts for my books.
- One of my dear friends is my personal book curator, and has been recommending Singh for several years now. I should say, in said friend’s defense, that she specified not the angel series. But I picked up Angel’s Blood cheap, so that’s what I had to try.
So what did I think of this book?
I wasn’t totally wowed. I did like it, it kept me up late reading, which is a sign of excellent pacing. However, I’m not particularly tempted to read anymore in the series. Honestly? I think it is just that my taste as a reader no longer bends in the pure paranormal romance (AKA PNR) department.
So, yes, I would call this straight-up classic PNR (as opposed to Urban Fantasy – AKA UF). The difference, for me, lies in 3 things:
- The driving force of the narrative
- Whether the book ends on an HEA or not
- The ratio of romance to action
A PNR will be driven by a will they/won’t they romance narrative, be at least 50% romance if not more, and end happily. A UF may do all those things, but you aren’t guaranteed it, certainly not in the first book.
Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series? UF.
This book? PNR.
So Angels’ Blood gives us a plot driven by a romance but with a nice lot of action, a couple of nice sexy-times, great pacing, and fighting that is bloody and occasionally quite graphic, and everything ends happily. Classic PNR.
What did I like?
I liked the world building very much, and the one thing that might drive me to read on in this series is an interest in understanding and exploring the alternate reality of an archangel dominated world.
There are at least 10 books in the series. But this first book does standalone, and it has a happily ever after. There seem to be 4 other books with these main characters, and the remaining 5 books feature side characters. Which if you know me, is an approach to series writing that I very much appreciate as an author and a reader.
One of the things I most enjoyed is the way the immortality of the angel characters leaps off the page. I get the impression that they are indeed quite old.
What gave me pause?
This is no fault of Singh’s but I think I just don’t gravitate towards classic PNR anymore. If I’m going to read a PNR, I’d rather it be queer.
Which brings me onto the next thing that I, personally, was looking for in these books, queer characters. In this one, at least, there were none. There’s a wide scope of characters of color, which I appreciate, but I want gender fluidity, gay characters, and everything in between. So I notice and I miss this when not there. Not even a hint.
It is always rough to criticize a book for what it doesn’t have, as an author I entirely understand that not every story allows for a full scope of inclusion. Even if you really want to write characters in, sometimes the plot does not allow for it. It may even be that in the next book in this series, a character we are already familiar with turns out to be bi or gay. But I can’t help how I feel.
There were a few issues with the writing itself that bothered me: a lot of repetition in phrasing and information. It might be that this is first book-itis, or it might be that this is one of her early works and these kinks iron out as she matures as an author. (And yes I say this knowing she has more books than me and has been writing longer.) All of us authors have ticks that we struggle with, and all of us make mistakes. It’s just that I noticed quite a bit of repetition, and that is not something that I normally would notice. I’m frankly just not a very careful reader.
““He’s an archangel. I scent vampires,” she pointed out for what felt like the millionth time, but neither archangel nor vampire was listening.”
This, for example, also felt like the millionth time to me. I actually yelled, “Yes, I KNOW!” at the book.
Singh also has predilection for long detailed descriptions of mundane tasks like showering and brushing hair and putting in hair ties and… I know some readers enjoy this level of detail ~ how else do you explain the popularity of Epic Fantasy? ~ but I’m not one of those readers.
“Socks and boots went on next, before she picked up a hair-brush. Running it quickly through her hair, she tugged the wet mass back into a tight ponytail and spent the next few minutes stocking up on weapons from her secret stash.”
There are a number of tropes I’m not wild about (family sins, special sexy appearance, solo sacrifice) and some I like (warrior woman badass, enduring friendships, found family) and some endemic to PNR that I consider cop outs (eternity together, you were made for me).
All in all, I understand the appeal of the book and the author’s writing, her pacing really is excellent, and that is a very difficult skill to master. I may give her Psy-Changeling series a try on the basis of liking her world building and pace style, but I will be quizzing my friend who recommended her to me to find out if those books have queer characters or not, and that will be the deciding factor.
Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for Feb is Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.
OUT IN PRINT & DIGITAL & AUDIO!
Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger is now available (audio will follow).
Gay reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some unexpected holiday gifts.
- Competence ~ Custard Protocol Book 3
Out July 17, 2018.
Third in the Custard Protocol series featuring Primrose, Rue, and all their crazy friends. Available to preorder in digital & hardcover!
If you want to see a sneak peek of the cover for Competence, before anyone else, it’s going out in the next Chirrup! Sign up now to get it Sunday Feb 4.
- How to Marry a Werewolf (In 10 Easy Steps) ~ A Claw & Courtship Novella
Coming Spring 2018.
Featuring a certain white wolf we all love to hate (except those of us weirdos who love to love him). Add this book on Goodreads.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Quote of the Day:
Quote of the Day:
“O’ peppermint tea –
two delights per sip
as steamy hot as passion
cool as a wintry lake dip.”
~ Astrid Alauda
(It goes without saying, I hope, that peppermint tea is, in fact, not at tea but a tisane.)