Book Review: Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

angels-bloodTitle: Angels’ Blood
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 339
Started: 11th November 2016
Completed: 12th November 2016
Rating: 3.5/5
Summary: Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows 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 does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break.

May contain some minor spoilers!

Angels’ Blood is the first book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. The series currently consist of nine novels (Angels’ Blood, Archangel’s Kiss, Archangel’s Consort, Archangel’s Blade, Archangel’s Storm, Archangel’s Legion, Archangel’s Shadows, Archangel’s Enigma, and Archangel’s Heart) as well as a few novellas.

Singh has also written other novels and novellas in the paranormal romance genre, including her Psy-Changeling series which currently includes 15 novels and many short stories and novellas.

I love the concept of this book. Singh sets out a paranormal hierarchy which places archangels at the top and humans at the bottom with angels and vampires in between. Some humans are what’s known as hunter-born because they’re born with the ability to track the scent of vampires and this makes them incredibly useful to angels. Elena, the protagonist of this book, is a hunter-born and she’s employed by the archangel Raphael to track someone very unusual.

The start of this novel is fantastic because the reader is introduced to Elena while she’s on a job. I liked that she wasn’t a teenager because that made her skills more realistic, as if she’d acquired them through experience, and it also made her slightly more relatable. Singh does a great job at introducing the world she’s created without giving too much away in the first chapter.

The characters were a mixed bag for me. I liked some but I thought that others were a tad stereotypical. Elena is smart and skilled but she also has an dysfunctional family and an intriguing past. She sounds like every other young adult heroine that I’ve encountered but her story is much darker and she’s a bit older than your average heroine too. She’s not in her late 30s or 40s but she’s not a teenager either so Singh obviously created Elena to resemble her target audience, women in their 20s. I do like Elena because she’s badass and fights against Raphael but she is a little bit of a stereotype.

Raphael is very stereotypical. He’s drop dead gorgeous, he’s of a higher status than Elena, he has anger issues which obviously mean that something really bad happened in his past, and he’s obsessed with Elena even though he knows that she’ll destroy him. I honestly wanted to punch Raphael by page 26. I’m hoping that this changes in the next book but he’s just a very annoying character in Angels’ Blood.

These two stereotypical characters have an almost stereotypical romance. They want to be together but they shouldn’t be together and they try to fight their attraction until they finally give in. However, there are some major consent issues going on in this novel as Raphael forces himself on Elena at almost every turn. He’s afraid of his romantic attraction to Elena but he has no problems expressing his sexual attraction to her even though she repeatedly says no to him. This is addressed by Elena and the actual sex scene is consensual. It’s also a bit boring in my opinion but I often find sex scenes in books and films very un-sexy.  This will-they-won’t-they romance takes up most of the middle section of the book with only hints of actual plot as Raphael employs Elena to track a rogue archangel by the name of Uram. I found this middle section fairly tedious and the only thing that kept me going was the hints of plot and some of the other characters.

Most of the plot action takes place towards the end of the novel as Elena tracks Uram and Raphael and Elena confront him. I really enjoyed this part of the novel because it was what I’d been waiting for. The fight between Elena and Uram highlighted her mortality as she goes up against a being much more powerful than herself. However, despite this great section of action I disliked the ending. I’m not going to reveal what happens at the end but I didn’t see it coming and I wasn’t happy about it either.

There are some characters that I did really like. Dmitri is a vampire who works for Raphael as the head of his security. He’s older than most other vampires who are in service to an angel or archangel as their period of servitude (or slavery) is only 100 years. He’s incredibly handsome and seductive but he’s also very dark and almost sadistic. He continually flirts with Elena, who finds his scent attractive, but he does try to kill her when she hurts Raphael. I liked his character because of his loyalty to Raphael.

Michaela is an archangel and a bit of a bitch. She was a lover of Uram who courts her with the still-warm hearts of his victims in his madness. She continually attempts to sink her claws into Raphael and this makes her an adversary of Elena. However, I actually really like her because she’s a female character who is incredibly powerful and very comfortable with her sexuality. She only loves herself and she uses sexual desire as a weapon. I think she’s great.

Lijuan is another archangel and she’s probably the oldest being in the novel. She’s lost all of her humanity and she has extraordinary powers. She was once in love with a mortal but she had him killed because he made her feel human. She’s the archangel of China and I’m very excited to read about her in the next novel if she’s included.

Finally, I really loved Sara, one of Elena’s best friends, because she’s a badass hunter with a family. She’s a wife and a mother but she’s still incredibly skilled and amazing at her job. I love that Singh includes a character like her because usually women are cast aside when they become mothers, they’re seen as a different person to who they used to be, but Sara is both an amazing mum and an amazing hunter.

Just some final notes on the writing style of this book. It’s not suitable for younger readers at all since there’s sexual and violent content involved. There’s also a lot of swearing in the novel as most of the characters drop the f-bomb at least once. Obviously, Singh’s target audience isn’t younger teens but it’s always good to know as some adults don’t want to read books with swearing either.

The book well written and it’s fairly fast paced, despite the lack of action in the middle section, and it only took me two days to read it with many breaks in between reading sessions. I think that Singh does a great job of creating suspense which leads to a satisfying final battle against Uram.

Best quote from the book:

‘All she could think about was whether ducks had dreams.’

I did enjoy this book for the most part but I’d change the ending if I had a choice. I’d also like more action in the middle section of the book to counteract the romance between Elena and Raphael. There are just enough good aspects to keep me intrigued and I will read the second book.

I would recommend this book to people who definitely enjoy the urban fantasy or paranormal romance genres. I’d cautiously recommend it to other people based on their particular likes and dislikes. I wouldn’t have bought this book myself but I did enjoy most of it.



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