Angelfall by Susan Ee

Posted On 13 May 2015

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Angelfall is a book that took me by surprise.  Yes, I’ve seen this around the blogosphere for a long time and for some strange reason simply resisted the urge to read it.  I think at the time I’d frankly had enough of vampires, werewolves and angels.  And, to a certain extent I’m glad I waited as I’m having a bit of a resurgence on those type of novels and this was a great addition.

The first unique thing about this book – we have an apocalypse but the downfall and destruction has been caused by angels – I didn’t really see that coming.  And, yes, I did have a little bit of eye rolling and actually fairly low expectations to start off with.  I don’t know why really as this book has very good reviews and contrary to my own qualms to begin with the story fairly quickly pulled me in.

The main characters of the story are Penryn and Raffe.  Penryn is a fairly tough girl.  Her mother is plagued by demons (whether of her own making or not no one really knows) and as a result she hasn’t had the luxury of being spoilt.  Her mother made sure she was capable of looking after herself and now the world is in turmoil that’s turned into something more valuable than the mobile phones that are little more than rubbish to be crushed under foot.

At the start of the story Penryn, her mother and her disabled sister are trying to relocate – this is a dangerous endeavour as the streets are now brutal places where you wouldn’t want to linger.  Unfortunately their plan goes disastrously wrong after Penryn steps in to help an angel who appears to be being attacked by a gang of his own kind and in retribution for her actions her sister is taken.  Penryn’s only hope is to rely on the angel, Raffe, who should now owe her one, stepping in to help rescue her sister.  And so a hazardous and fraught journey beings with the pair of them trying to make their way to the aerie where Penryn’s sister will have been taken.

There are a number of things that I think really pulled me into this story.  It’s very fast paced and intense.  We don’t have any real back story and in fact the book concludes without ever really finding out why the angels have caused such death and destruction.  The time period here is a fairly brief one starting with the quest for a new home and ending with the journey to rescue Penryn’s sister.  The only real flashbacks are the occasional musings of Penryn looking back at events involving her mother.  The journey here is perilous in itself.  The streets are populated with gangs of vicious criminals.  Rumours of cannibalism are rife, angels stalk the skies killing without any fear of reprisal and the very forests themselves seem to be possessed.  On top of the constant fear of violence is the gnawing pangs of hunger and the relentless search for food and safe shelter.

On top of the action and tension we have two very readable characters in Penryn and Raffe.  I can’t deny that there is a little bit of romantic tension that starts to build as the story develops but as this is forbidden by one of the characters and not sought after by the other it isn’t an overpowering element of the story.  More a slow building thread with plenty of entertaining dialogue along the way.

The other thing that really hit me with this is the harshness encountered during the search and rescue.  This author certainly doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant and in fact some of the latter scenes verge on horror!  So, just to be clear, I’m not particularly saying that I love violence and horror but I did find that this was refreshingly un-sugar coated in terms of YA.  This new reality is unpleasant and Ee doesn’t shirk from portraying it in all it’s grim splendour.

I found this to be a very good read.  The writing was really good, the tension practically bounces off the page and it kept me gripped to the end.  I’m really looking forward to No.2 and would definitely recommend this if you don’t mind a slice of heavy realism mixed in with your heavenly bodies.

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Delighted, enchanted and thrilled to meet you!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish where each week we’re challenged to come up with 10 books or book related ‘things’ in line with the topic for that particular week. This week’s theme is:

Ten Authors I REALLY Want To Meet

So, firstly, I don’t want to meet any authors to be honest – they make me nervous which is a new feeling for me and not one that I enjoy.  I simply become tongue tied and red faced.  But, for the sake of this week’s theme I’m going to make out like that wouldn’t be the case and come up with ten authors who I can talk the socks off:

  1. In a twist of irony I’d like to travel back in a time machine and meet HGWells to discuss The Time Machine.
  2. Neil Gaiman, I’ve actually been to see an event at which Mr Gaiman spoke and he’s incredibly lovely – I’d like to meet him but only if he can take me on a tour of the streets from London Below.
  3. Jane Austen, I’m prepared to donn a long frock and bonnet for the opportunity for a chat with Ms Austen – preferrably over a tea dance or on a visit at Longbourn.
  4. JKRowling – a trip to Hogwarts and a ride on a Hippogriff and Ms Rowling can explain why the series had to end!!
  5. In which I travel to the Waystone Inn to be served a flagon of something tasty whilst listening to Bast play a fiddle and when, by hook or by crook I discover the release date for the next instalment from Patrick Rothfuss.  That’s right Mr Rothfuss I’m inviting you for an ale or three!  There will be words – tongues will be loosened (by alcohol that is!)
  6. Orson Welles – I don’t think any explanation is needed for this.  Perhaps I could meet him in a dark gothic mansion – I’m thinking of the setting for a film he starred in – Jane Eyre, where he played Mr Rochester.
  7. Shakespeare – I’m going to need the time machine again!  Wouldn’t you just love to travel back in time and be a fly on the wall in Shakespearean London?  I’ve only read A Midsummer Night’s Dream but even though I’m greatly underread I would love to meet him.
  8. I couldn’t possibly have this list and omit Mr Tolkien – we can go on an adventure together!  Rivendell, Fanghorn Forest even – maybe skip the mines of Moria – too many orcs and they have a cave troll.
  9. Gillian Philip – for this, I will be travelling beyond the veil to meet in the lands of the Sithe.  Let’s just face it, yes, I would love to meet this lovely author and thank her for her rebel angels – in particular the rather easy on the eye Seth.  Thank you again and again!
  10. Margaret Mitchell – who in fact I need to see just to ask ‘why?’ Why would you end it like that?  Come on!

Tis all for me this week.  Let me know who you would love to meet.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, readalong week No.1

Today is the start of a readalong of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart – sorry I’m a bit late but life conspired against me this weekend and I haven’t been near a book or a laptop until now.  Week one is being hosted by Susan at Dab of Darkness.  The questions and answers for week No.1 are below.  If you haven’t read this book already be aware of spoilers in the following text.  If you have read and want to jump in with your own answers then please do so.  If you want to join in with the readalong then leave me a comment – the details are here.

Chapters 1-8

1) Here we have the earliest days of Phedre’s life, and we have the story of Elua and his followers. Did you note any similarities between Phedre’s beginning and Elua’s stories? Do you enjoy having these stories upfront or would you rather have had the stories shuffled in later with an adult Phedre looking back? 

I must say that I didn’t really pick up on the similarities, which isn’t to say they weren’t there but I just didn’t pick up on them.

I really enjoy this sort of story style where we get a narrative looking back at the childhood years and in fact I much prefer it to having flashbacks.  This way just feels more natural.

2) Hyacinthe has become Phedre’s one true friend. Do you think she is the same for him? The dromonde, or fortune telling, fascinates Phedre. Do you have a fortune telling story? 

Fortunately, even though I’ve read this book before, my memory is dreadful.  At this stage I’m going to say that Hyacinthe enjoys Phedre’s friendship and it’s as simple as that.  Of course he’s an astute little boy but I think he enjoys being with somebody who is not from his particular neck of the woods.  Somebody a bit different.

I don’t have a fortune telling story but now I really feel like I want one!  Oh well, I’ll just have to satisfy myself with everyone else’s’ stories.

3) The Midwinter Masque on the Longest Night is a long held tradition in Terre D’Ange. What stood out for you? Have you been to such a fete? 

I haven’t been to a masqued ball although I would love to.  I loved this part of the story so far, it puts me in mind of reading about such balls in historical novels set in Venice.  I loved all the themes and the way people were dressed.  I suppose what stood out for me were Phedre’s excitement to be a part of it all, Delaunay being in attendance and actually approaching her and the strange hints at political/royal maneouvering.

4) Anafiel Delaunay has many secrets. How do you think those secrets will shape Alcuin and Phedre? 

This is an interesting question – I think Delaunay’s secretive nature will possibly make Alcuin and Phedre even more desperate to find out what really went on in the past.  I think it will help to shape them into two incredibly inquisitive people.

5) Delaunay has a saying; All knowledge is worth having. Do you believe this is so? 

Well, yes, I do think so although I think it could be a bit much trying to have the depth of knowledge that Phedre and Alcuin are being crammed with – that being said, they’re young and their minds are like sponges.  It does make you wonder though about how it might set them apart – if you’re always looking at a thing through different eyes trying to read into everything then surely you’re not as open to simple enjoyment.  It seems like the two are a little bit isolated in a way.

Mother! I’ve turned the cooling unit back on. Mother!…… ’You bitch’

This week over at the Fantasy Review Barn Nathan is taking us travelling once again through the tropes of fantasy.  The topic this week: MOMS:

Everyone has a mother. Including people in fantasyland. 

The head of family, mummy Scott – immortal vampire, incredibly strong, rules the family with an iron fist but is gradually becoming weaker.  Generation V by M L Brennan

Lady Trent – may not seem like a pillar of virtue after she first has her son but in Voyage of the Basilisk the two really started to bond well and he actually brought out a different side.  Lady Trent’s Memoirs by Marie Brennan

Penelope – Nevada’s mother from Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – one kick ass mom!

Coraline’s other mother – the evil mum who wants to stitch buttons on for eyes – ouch!  Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Mrs Weasley – needs no introduction – just ‘not my daughter – you bitch!’

The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray

Just finished reading The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray.  This is the start of a new fantasy series set in a faux medieval world.  I admit I was really attracted by the premise and the gorgeous cover.  Having completed, well, I can’t really say that this is a series I will continue with to be honest.  And it pains me to say that because I hate to give negative reviews and I really set out with great expectations for this particular book.

The story gets off to an immediate start with the King of Highkell, Trisilian, despatching is wife, Alwenna, to safety in the face of imminent attack by Vasic – traitor and would-be usurper.  And so Alwenna begins her journey to sanctuary, accompanied by the King’s man Weaver and her maid.  From there on the story becomes one of flee, capture, escape and flee again!  It very soon becomes apparent that Alwenna has visions and also seems capable of wielding certain magic and in fact much darker magic is involved in the story towards the conclusion.  In fact, I must confess in that respect the twist towards the end gave me a real surprise.

In terms of characters.  The main two are Alwenna and Weaver who do spend a good deal of time in each other’s company.  On top of this we have Vasic taking the role of baddie of the piece and a number of additional peripheral characters that join at different points during the course of the story.

So, why didn’t i love this.  I certainly imagine that some people will do so to be honest.  It’s quite an easy book to read although the constant travelling back and forth does become a bit tiresome.  In fact, I started off thinking I would really enjoy this, even though Alwenna annoyed me almost immediately with her ridiculous demands, for example demanding to take a maid on a dangerous escape mission – just so that the proper formalities could be observed – get over yourself and stop putting people in danger.  I actually quite like ‘road’ journeys – a fact borne out by my love of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and so I was puzzled as to why my interest dwained a little and I think this is due to the perception of ‘size’ with this world.  It just really felt like a very small place.  I know that’s probably not the best articulation of how I felt but I do think it gives you a good idea.  The distances between A to B seemed easy traversed, there never felt like any real threats were encountered on the way and it just didn’t seem like the sort of place that a person could simply get lost or disappear into.

On top of that I became increasingly frustrated with Alwenna and Weaver.  They knowingly walked into any number of situations which they ‘had a bad feeling about’ – just why!  And, for goodness sake, Alwenna can see the future – how could she have had no idea of what was actually going on.  Okay, i realise her visions became stronger after she received a certain ‘gift’ but she did already have ‘the sight’.  I think my feelings towards both of them was that in spite of any number of reasons why they shouldn’t they continually made themselves into victims and I found it hard to comprehend.  On top of that I just couldn’t become attached to them.  They both had their odd moments of inspiration but overall I felt there was simply no chemistry involved between the two, the majority of the time they were at odds with each other and their eventual trist felt completely wrong and in fact a little bit cold and almost calculated.  I also struggled with why Weaver, given the knowledge that he had now come by would step out of character so blatantly.

Now, this all seems terribly critical – which I hate.  I really don’t think this is a bad book however I don’t really think it is for me.  I simply had too many things that niggled me and frankly didn’t add up.

I received a copy of this book from the pubishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above opinion is my own.

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