Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh

Woohoo, another review I've been wanting to put up and inspiration just wasn't coming. I think I'm on a roll at the moment. Two weeks ago, I was worried how I was going to juggle reading, blogging and curling... but now, it seems everything is simply coming together. Rare, but you won't hear me complaining :) And I sure hope it continues this way!

Enjoy the review!

Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in September 2012
With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, paranormal romance
Series: The Guild Hunter, Book #5

The Story: After the execution of her daughter in Archangel's Kiss, Neha's, the Archangel of India, rage threatens the balance of the world once again upon the discovery of her consort and husband's mutilated corpse. To avoid Neha falling to madness, Raphael decides to divert her by sending Jason to her territory to investigate Eris' murder. However, Neha is unwilling to welcome Raphael's spymaster to her court unless he swears a blood vow... and that's how Jason finds himself bound to Mahiya.

Mahiya is a 300 years old angel with a doomed future. She is the result of Eris and Nivriti's, Neha's husband and sister, forbidden affair. Consequently, Eris was imprisoned in his jewel-studded palace while Nivitri was executed for their betrayals. Mahiya has no illusions of Eris and Neha's feelings for her. She quickly found out as she grew up that her aunt only kept her to torment her, to exact her revenge... and all Mahiya can do is bite her lips till the day she escapes... And she will escape one day.

As Jason and Mahiya investigate Eris' death, they realize that not all is as it seems at Archangel Fort... As old secrets are uncovered, they realize that something is brewing... something that could disrupt the Cadre of Ten's power and no one can do anything about it.

My Opinion: To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect of Archangel's Storm. Oh sure, the reviews for it were good... but then again, they always are for any books written by Ms Singh :) The truth is, I don't enjoy The Guild Hunter series as much as her Psy-Changelings series. I'm just not clicking with the feel of this series as I think Ms Singh is trying too hard to be dark, to have tortured heroes... However, while Archangel's Storm doesn't escape this syndrome, I did end up enjoying this book quite a bit :)

I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much was for the heroine, Mahiya. I simply found her really refreshing. She's a young angel, very resilient and brave. Her background is not rosy pink, but she doesn't dwell too much on it. She doesn't let it weigh her down and that's what I found admirable. Instead, she's determined to survive, to escape... that's her motivation to endure the humiliations and embarrassments and she's learned not to let them show. To me, she is different than all the other angels we've come across in this series. All the others could rely on the knowledge of their immortality... A lot of them are unhappy, scarred and so on, but one thing they know for sure, is that they'll live. For Mahiya, it's different. She knows the only reason she lives is because her aunt Neha allows it, she's there on sufferance. The day Neha has decided she no longer wants Mahiya around, Mahiya won't be around anymore. That gave her a different perspective and in my opinion, distinguished her from other angels. All in all, I liked her character very much. It was also poignant to see that after 300 years, she still craved for family, for maternal love.

As for Jason, he was an interesting character... but even now, I don't really know how I feel about him. I guess I'm neutral where he is concerned. He was yet another tortured hero, having gone through a family tragedy when he was very young. And even now, centuries after, he still has flashbacks of what happened. I don't want to make light of what he went through or what any of the heroes in this series have gone through... but don't they say time dulls the pain? Do they have eidetic memory, as in they can never forget? Do they purposely cling to their pains and memories? Or perhaps because their lifespan is so long, their minds are different. Seriously, I'd really want one main character who is happy, who hasn't gone through anything tragic. I mean, I don't usually mind tortured characters, but so many together? I think the only one we got so far in this series who had a normal upbringing is Galen... and from what we've glimpsed from the rest of Raphael's Seven, he might be the only one ^_^; But back to Jason. He was an interesting and intriguing character, a competent one as well, and I'm very sad for what happened to him... but at the end of the day, I didn't really connect with him... and I feel that affected my view of the romance a little bit. I mean, I like Jason and Mahiya as a couple, but I didn't see such a deep connection between them. Their romance just seemed to have happened and I'm not sure exactly what brought them together besides proximity.

As for the rest of the book, I quite enjoyed everything. I liked that we got to see more of the Seven, but in a different context, outside of New York City, the Tower and Raphael's proximity. I feel we got to see more of their personalities. I also liked the different setting - India and Archangel Fort. We got to see a different culture, different ways... It was interesting to see a territory that wasn't under Raphael. We all know that each Archangel governs its territory in a certain way and it was interesting to witness it. And I really, really enjoyed the court intrigue as well at the mystery in Archangel's Storm. One thing Ms Singh can do is plot and come up with complex storylines and it was neat how everything tied up together. It was also very clever... I'm really curious at how it is going to impact the world and its balance. I hope we get to meet the other Archangels soon as well :)

The Grade: B. Despite its tortured hero, Archangel's Storm finds itself at the top of the list for my favorite read in this series, just under Archangel's Kiss because I enjoyed Mahiya, the storyline and the setting very much :)