Archangel’s Shadows. Book Review

archARCHANGEL’S SHADOWS by Nalini Singh
Orion, p/b, 384pp, £8.99
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

I’m told that angels are very popular in America, so it is unsurprising that they turn up in fiction. Nalini Singh’s angels, though, are not cute messengers from God. These are powerful and dangerous. To cross one often means death. In this world, the angels are the top predator but even they are prone to squabbles and even wars. Only angels can make vampires, and any newly made vampire is debentured to their angel for a century. Sometimes, the vampire decides he or she doesn’t like the conditions of servitude and does a runner. Then the Guild Hunters are sent to bring him back, probably for decapitation.

For any reader familiar with Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, they will know to expect a romantic and erotic tale packed with action. This series follows the same pattern. Archangel’s Shadows is the seventh in this series. Rafael is the archangel with dominion over North America. In the aftermath of a brutal war between angel factions, he is trying to bring some kind of stability to his city. His Shadows are covert members of the Hunter Guild who work under the radar. The team featured in this novel are Ash, a human with psychic abilities (touching someone’s skin can reveal to her their deepest secrets), Janviere, a Cajun vampire and Naasir (no-one knows exactly what he is). After a near-death encounter, Ash is given light duties. In this case, to investigate the corpse of a dog which appears to have been drained, not only of blood but life force as well. Janviere is given the task of tracing the source of a new drug, Umber. This is instantly addictive and overuse induces blood lust in the vampires that use it putting anyone in their vicinity in danger. It soon becomes clear that the two situations are connected and unless those responsible are stopped, the city will go in to meltdown.

Ash and Janviere are the romantically linked couple here, and, as in any good romance, there are reasons why a liaison between them is unthinkable – at least in Ash’s eyes. It isn’t just that Janviere is a vampire and will outlive her and see her grow old, she also has a secret. She was told that her sister died in the same car crash that killed her parents. Only many years later did she discover that her sister was actually in a care home with a degenerative mental condition that she has probably inherited. She doesn’t want Janviere to see her succumb to this condition, Janviere doesn’t want to continue his near immortal life if she isn’t part of it.

Archangel’s Shadows is packed full of action interspersed with emotion and eroticism. The characters barely have time to draw breath before they face the next crisis. There is plenty of gore, death and sex. If this is the kind of thing you look for in a novel, you are in for a good time.