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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Angels of Darkness (Anthology)

Title: Angels of Darkness (Anthology
Authors: Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Sharon Shinn, Meljean Brook
Plot Type: mostly SMR
Publisher: Berkley Sensation, 2011

     In this strong collection of novellas, four talented authors spin tales of angelic fantasy. Two novellas are parts of existing series, and one appears to be the start of a new series. This is definitely one of the better paranormal anthologies that I've read recently.

Nalini Singh: "Angel's Wolf," from her GUILD HUNTER Series (Ratings: V2; S4; H2) (Plot Type: SMR)
     This novella features Noel, the vampire we met in Archangel's Kiss (Book 2 of the series), and Nimra, the beautiful angel who rules the Louisiana territory. Noel has recovered physically from the severe injuries he suffered in Archangel's Kiss, but his emotional state is far from healthy. Raphael has sent Noel to Louisiana because someone has attempted to murder Nimra, who has the reputation for being cruel and merciless. As Noel tries to determine the identity of the would-be killer, he discovers that the seductive Nimra is definitely not the cold, uncaring angel that the rest of the supernatural world believes her to be. As the two work together to catch the perpetrator, Noel slowly begins to heal, and the couple gradually falls in love. This novella will also be included in the Angel's Flight anthology in March 2012, along with three additional GUILD HUNTER novellas. Click HERE to read the first chapter of "Angel's Wolf." Click HERE to go to my review of the GUILD HUNTER series.

Ilona Andrews: "Alphas: Origins" (Ratings: V5; S2; H1) (Plot Type: Fantasy) 
     The incredible world that Andrews builds in this novella (the longest in the book) doesn't really have any angels, but it is still absolutely amazing. As the story opens, Karina is driving her young daughter, Emily, and three of her classmates on a field trip when they take an exit for a rest stop and and are attacked by monsters. Then, another monster arrives to rescue Karina and Emily, transporting them to another realm of existence. (The other kids are sent home to their families.) The story could have turned into a typical beauty and the beast knock-off, but Andrews is a much better story teller than that. Lucas is a mysterious being who shifts into his monster form when he is in attack mode, and then shifts back into a heavily-muscled alpha male when the danger is past. He lives with three other men—all very strange and scary—in an isolated house where they always seem to be in defense mode against unseen enemies. As the plot slowly unwinds, Karina learns more information about this strange world and about the role she must play if she wants to survive. Many scenes are extremely violent, but they serve to give both Karina and the reader a sense of the innate cruelty of this world. What a great story! Click HERE to read Andrews's "unofficial blurb" about the novella, which suggests that this is the beginning of a new series. I hope so. On that same web page is a link to an excerpt from the story. 
     Here, Lucas describes himself and his species to Karina: "Subspecies 30, types 1 through 5, otherwise known as Demons. A venomous, carnivorous, predatory variant of human with the ability to drastically alter its morphology. They were powerful, aggressive, territorial, and they dominated their point of origin for a few hundred years, hunting in small packs, but this subspecies was not viable in the long term. They were crippled because their bodies couldn't produce a set of small molecules necessary for their survival, so they had to cannibalize other humans to get it." (p. 193)

Sharon Shinn: "Nocturne" (Ratings: V2; S3; H2) (Plot Type: SMR Fantasy)
     In this fantasy world, mortals live among angels at a time and place that vaguely resemble the ancient city of Samaria in the 9th Century BC. As the story begins, Moriah has been on the run for years, moving from one job to the next, always antagonizing whatever person is in charge. Now, she has arrived at the Gabriel School, a home for problem children, many of whom are the offspring of an angel and a human woman many of whom desert their children when they turn out to be mortal rather than angelic. These women are called angel-seekers. As Moriah furtively explores the school and its grounds during her solo night shift, she discovers that a blind angel lives in the house on a hill just behind the school. When she finagles her way in, she makes friends with the angel (Corban) and they exchange their life stories. As Moriah helps Corban fly again, they begin to bond and then to fall in love. This is a standard SMR story: two angst-filled characters with tragic pasts coming together in love and lust.

Meljean Brook: "Ascension," from her GUARDIAN Series (Ratings: V3; S4; H2) (Plot Type: SMR)
     The action in this story (the shortest in the book) comes just after Demon Marked. Guardian Marc Revoire believes that a demon is the culprit in the murder of a vampire in one of the towns under his jurisdiction, but he's having trouble finding the killer. When his long-lost love and fellow Guardian, Radha, turns up, he is reminded of just how lonely his life has been since she left him 140 years ago. Radha is a gorgeous woman of Middle Eastern ancestry who dyes her entire body indigo blue and wears only a few strategically placed scarves. Of course, no one but Marc can see her colorful, near-naked body, because Radha has the powers off invisibility and illusion. As Marc and Radha track down the villains, they talk through the situation that caused their break-up. Eventually, they (of course) re-discover the true love that was there all along. Click HERE to read chapter 1. Click HERE to go to my review of the GUARDIAN series.

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