Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Messenger's Angel

by Heather Killough-Walden


There's an element of trying to cover all the bases in The Lost Angels series. Whilst Uriel was tall, dark and passionate in Avenger's Angel, Gabriel is kind, scruffy and Scottish. Admittedly he fails to sport red hair and a kilt, and at no point does he paint himself blue or vote SNP. But aside from these lapses he's a haggis-eating, brogue-talking full-time Scotsman.

Juliette Anderson is a PhD student with a particular love of Scotland and its history. When a generous media mogul gives her the chance to visit it on an expenses paid research trip she jumps at the chance. But things go wrong from the moment she arrives and loses her luggage. She's stalked by bad guys who want to kidnap her and drink all her blood. Emerging powers of healing and weather control astonish her. And from the first time she meets Gabriel she's mesmerised by him, but at the same time she doesn't trust him. Angus Dougal, a local policeman, warns her about Gabriel's shady financial situation. Then her benefactor Samael follows this up with a story about a black sorcerer who seduces archesses (the archangel's female soul mates) and tries to steal their powers.

All this will seem familiar if you've read the first novel in the series: it's more or less the same plot. The evil Adarians are a race of angels bent on slaughter and stealing everyone's powers. Samael is handsome, mysterious and wicked, as before. And the four archangels fight together to protect the latest archess and to help their brother win her affections. Samael is perhaps the most interesting character because his motives are complex and he's playing a long game, so the details of his schemes don't emerge until later in the story. However he is mainly a background character. The archangel Gabriel and Juliette are much more straightforward, and even rather bland. Juliette is kind, truthful and liable to keep her word no matter what, but she has no edge whatsoever. She's a petite beauty who cares about her work even when she's beset by supernatural attackers, and I found it very hard to relate to her flawless earnestness. There was no point when it looked like she might turn around and do the wrong thing, or anything ignoble or unexpected.

I also found the attempts at Scottish dialect clunky, overdone, and not all that authentic. For example, in chapter 17 Angus Dougal says "I'm sorry tae intrude on ye withoot notice, ... but I was in the area and saw yer lights on and wanted tae check up on ye." There's a lot of this.

The setting is also a tourist brochure version of bonnie Scotland full of cosy pubs, warm hearths, atmospheric standing stones and crumbling castles. It's an advertising fantasy view of the country, and like the main characters it's pretty but insipid.

Implacable attackers come at Juliette and the archangels frequently enough to keep the novel's pace breathless. The romance is also fairly steamy, although it's a little more gentle and soft-focus than the work of paranormal romance writers like Laurell K. Hamilton or Sylvia Day. So this novel has a degree of entertainment potential. It's very much a pulpy, sweet, obvious story with a predictable dose of escapist adventure and melodramatic romance. It's an easy read that sticks to a formula of perfectly-proportioned angelic characters falling in love with other perfect characters and saving each other (or convenient helpless orphans) with no regard for anyone else's gag reflexes.

13th November 2012

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books


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3 star rating

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