The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

The Opiate Of The People (Review: Angel; LA Weatherly)

LA Weatherly
Usborne 2010

In a world where angels are beyond redemption, Alex thinks he's found one that might deserve mercy. Alex is a ruthless assassin - of angels. Forget everything you've heard about them before. Angels are not benign celestial creatures, but fierce stalkers whose irresistible force allows them to feed off humans, draining them of their vitality until there is barely anything left. As far as Alex is concerned, the only good angel is a dead angel...until he meets Willow. She may look like a normal teenager but Willow is no ordinary girl. Half-angel, half-human, Willow may hold the key to defeating the evil angels. But as the hunter and the hunted embark on an epic and dangerous journey and Willow learns the dark and terrifying secrets of her past, Alex finds himself drawn to Willow...with devastating consequences (blurb courtesy of Goodreads).

I started this title full of curiosity but also with some trepidation. Angels are all over the place at the moment, are they not? Fallen angels, nephilim, those with angel blood or DNA etc etc. I was concerned that I was heading for an angel overdose. But NO! L.A. Weatherly has absolutely turned the angel genre (if there is such a thing) on its head and the result could not be more refreshing.

Angel has two main protagonists, Willow and Alex. The point of view segues between the two with Willow speaking in the first person and Alex's sections being narrated in the third person. I would have expected this jump between tenses to have felt clunky yet it actually works really well and is a little different to what I have seen before. Both characters are extremely likable, which is just as well as they carry the story almost single-handedly from start to finish. Willow starts of as the weird girl at school, able to fix cars and give psychic readings and quite happy not to hide these aspects of herself. What I particularly liked was her complete ease with her own personality – she is quietly self-confident and happy with who she is. At first I was concerned that she was possibly going to be written as an uber-tough chick (whom I can rarely relate to) but as the story progresses she shows a charming, yet never overplayed, vulnerability. Her character development is excellent and the end of the book leaves her character in a very believable place. 

Alex is, of course, pretty swoony and at first would appear to be a typical loner-with-an-edge. I spent a lot of the book hoping that there might be some sort of crossover book deal where he could swoop into Hush, Hush and sort out bloody Patch whom I do not find at all swoony, or even at all nice...but I digress... Slowly Alex's back story begins to emerge and his walls start to come down. I liked his desire to protect Willow without suffocating her or ever becoming condescending – they make a good pair. The progression of their relationship is also fairly believable. While, as often seen in YA fiction, their relationship progresses quickly it is not altogether smooth and is written with care.

There aren't many secondary characters, but those that there are hold up pretty well, with Raziel and The Church of Angels being extremely sinister and often downright frightening. There are a few sections from the point of view of both Raziel and his right hand man, Jonah and they provide valuable insight into what is going on and particularly to the Angels nefarious motivations... 

And what angels they are! L.A. Weatherly has created a completely new angel mythology. Instead of the angels being either all good, good/fallen or bad/fallen she has made them pretty much entirely evil. Cleverly, she seems to have riffed on apocryphal angel sightings and taken the feelings of peace and tranquility people report (often prior to times of stress of illness) and turned their meaning around. There is no mention of religion, heaven, God or Lucifer and while the angels are beautiful, with wings and halos there is no suggestion that they are any relation to biblical seraphs – merely that they have come, from somewhere else, to Earth.

All in all, Angel is certainly a title worth reading. The plot is gripping, to the point where I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough towards the end, the leads likable and the mythology exciting and original. I'm really pleased that this is part of a series - I will certainly be buying its successors as soon as they are available on the shelves.

Angel was released on October 1st 2010 – thanks to UK Book Tours for arranging this review copy.

This review can also be found at BookBitz, along many others by a variety of reviewers - check them out!


Manda said…
Oooh, this sounds like an angel book that might actually be worth picking up. I hated Hush Hush, I loved that you wanted Alex to sort Patch out...
I went into it thinking 'oh god, another angel book' and I was very pleasantly surprised as well! :)
And here I was planning on ignoring this book because it's yet another Angel book. Will be looking out for this one now because a) I so trust your judgment and reviews and b) I have heard quite a number of fantastic things about this book. Also, the fact that I've been reading so many glowing reviews is probably a sign that this book refuses to just let me ignore it. :-)
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