Angels of Darkness is an anthology containing four novellas from the authors Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Sharon Shinn, and Meljean Brook. For review purposes, me and three friends decided to split the stories between us, so each of us reviewed one story in our respective blogs:
- "Angel's Wolf" by Nalini Singh - Reviewed by Melissa (My World...in words and pages)
- "Alphas: Origins" by Ilona Andrews - Reviewed by Mihir (Fantasy Book Critic)
- "Nocturne" by Sharon Shinn - Reviewed by Qwill (The Qwillery)
- "Ascension" by Meljean Brook - Reviewed by Bastard (Bastard Books and other crap)
I've only known of Meljean Brook in passing as her books tend to be romances, something that I'm quite averse reading about. Her "Ascension" novella is no different, being of a paranormal romance nature. I was very hesitant on trying it, but I like to think of myself as open minded and willing to read books outside my comfort level, so gave it a shot and ultimately was glad I did. "Ascension" is part of The Guardian Series, and is considered part #7.5 of it.
There are two main plot aspects to this story: the first being the relationship angle between our heroes and the other being the hunt for a possible demon who has been killing vampires and influencing behavior in town. On the relationship angle we got two Guardians, former humans that upon death have been granted gifts to help protect humanity, in the process of reconciling from some events that occurred more than a hundred years ago between them. Marc and Radha, after a year or so of friendship, succumbed to the temptations of sex and they had to deal with the consequences. Further complicated because Marc has a vow of celibacy; tempers flared, trust was broken, rejections, and betrayals of friendship later, they went their separate ways until when we find ourselves at the start of the story more than a hundred years later.
On the romantic side, I'm really not one who can really have much of an opinion on it. Though a story of love all told, I think this story was one more of friendship, and how the relationship grew from there. But those issues aside, I really can't comment if the romance aspect would be something appealing to paranormal romance readers. What I can say though is that I rather enjoyed this story much more than various urban fantasy novels that are really romances in disguise. And even though romance and erotic scenes are not for me, I wasn't annoyed by them with their inclusion in the story as I often am; in all a well balanced story I thought.
What surprised me as I read the book was how procedural focused the story was in some regards, which is something I really enjoyed. We got a real investigation going on and we follow various leads. I was glad to see plenty of dialogue, something I think many urban fantasies I read lack, as they tend to be introspective. But we visited a few witnesses and persons of interest, and had some good dialogue with all of them. We also got a scene where a crime was committed, and we go through all the evidence, and deductions are made, and evidence gets processed; the whole shebang, and this was all quite appreciated. When all is said and done, we got some action scenes leading up to the conclusion.
"Ascension" was an enjoyable read for me despite the odds being against me coming away with a positive experience, and I'm glad I read it. Though I don't envision myself reading any PNR any time soon, this series has me tempted a bit, and at the very least I have a starting point if I ever feel like testing the waters. One thing that impressed me was Meljean Brook's site, which contained a very detailed page of the series including term explanations and summaries of the series through The Guardian Series Primer; something I read some of to prepare for reading the novella. I can say I liked the author's writing style, and I can honestly recommend her to fans of the sub-genre, even with my ignorance in it. I can tell that the world building in the series is a good one, and it has me quite interested. So if this novella is of any indication, I'm recommending the Angels of Darkness anthology to fans of the sub-genre.