Saturday, January 7, 2017

Archangel's Heart

Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter Series)- Nalini Singh
Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating (out of 5):

Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead!

Synopsis: One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.
Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…


Two years have passed since the events of Archangel's Enigma and life has returned to normal for Elena- or as normal as possible when you're consort to the Archangel of New York.  No one has seen or heard from Lijuan, the insane Archangel of Death, since the last major battle and no one knows if she's alive, dead, or Sleeping.  But China is beginning to fall apart without an Archangel in charge and so the mysterious order of angels called the Luminata calls the Cadre to meet and resolve the situation.  While a meeting of archangels is never a lot of fun, Elena discovers this meeting is just the beginning. . .

In many ways, Archangel's Heart  goes back to the basics: Elena and Raphael continue to learn to work together as a team; the world altering power plays and politics is peripheral to the book's ultimate mystery; and love and family remain at the heart of everything.  I love how family has so many meanings to them- there is the immediate blood family and all their complicated associations; and there are friends who become family. Heart does a great job of showing how interconnected Elena and Raphael's families have become, especially between Elena and Caliane.  Caliane might not play a pivotal role in Heart but she has amazing impact each time we see her, and some of her scenes became my favorites.  As "other" as angels, especially archangels, may be, Archangel's Heart shows us some of their more "human" moments and values.  Both Elena and the reader see additional facets to each archangel's character, new layers that may only be seen for an instant, but remind us of the hidden complexities (both good and bad) inside each of these archangels.  Likewise, Aodhan gets to 'sparkle' with a larger role.  We get to see him start to come out of his shell and begin to find himself again.  I'm definitely looking forward to when he gets his own book!

While the question of Lijuan hovers over the Cadre and the purpose of this meeting, the mystery itself surrounds the Luminata. Singh does a fantastic job combining some of the original purpose of the Luminata- their search for enlightenment, their desire to preserve beautiful works of art or literature- with the gritty reality of what happens when a group of people begin to feel that they are untouchable and can do whatever they want.  Singh blends great cruelty, love, obsession, indifference, and hope together into a compelling and wonderful story.

I was a little disappointed by the constant repetition used throughout the book.  We were often told something four or five times when once would have been enough.  Some pieces that were fine on their own (like a knife throwing challenge at the beginning, or the number of times Elena and Raphael have brief, touching "I love you" moments) seemed, to me, to distract from or jar the flow of the story.  While I've come to expect that from some authors, this was the first time I've noticed it enough to detract from one of Singh's books.  Hopefully it is an aberration and future books will return to the more tightly written and edited style of Singh's other books.

Overall a great addition to the series.  Readers discovering the series with Archangel's Heart won't be floundering to figure out what everything is about, although they'll get much more out of reading the series in order.  Wonderful continued development of characters and some shocking (both bad and then ultimately good) twists at the end will leave readers eager for the next book in the series to see how things develop! 

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