ANGEL BURN (Angel Trilogy #1)
Paranormal Young Adult
Received via NetGalley for review
Most of Willow's life has been spent caring for her convalescent mother, a woman who drifts in and out of lucidity but more often than not seems content to stay in her own head. Willow has an uncanny ability to see into the future, often giving psychic readings in order to earn a little extra money to help her grandmother support her and her mom.
When giving one of the girls at school a reading, Willow sees a male angel draining the young woman's life force, and knows instinctively that he and creatures like him are a danger to humanity. Shortly after this shocking vision, Willow is visited by the angel in question, forcing her on the run with a young angel-killer named Alex who wants to know why she is suddenly attracting so much angel attention.
Willow is quickly given a crash course in the history of angels as far as Alex knows, and while he tries to keep his emotional distance from her because he knows her gifts are potentially linked to the angels, a begrudging attraction begins. Now made aware of Willow's existence however, the angels are more focused than ever on finding and destroying her, especially when the full truth about Willow is revealed and their plans for the future start to unravel.
Darkly fascinating, Angel Burn refuses to placate and comfort us with a familiar tale in which angels are paragons of goodness and light, but rather rips us from our previous notions and shows us how the beauty of these beings is merely a mask for villainy. Though they have the wings and the radiant light we are expecting, those elements are simply pretty distractions with which these parasites lure their prey, feeding on human life force while their victims' faces gaze upon them in awe and wonder. While most of humanity is blind to the otherworldly threat, we as readers do not share in the bliss of their ignorance, eyes riveted to the page as this new breed of predator is introduced to us, and we are taken aback but undeniably intrigued by such a shockingly different interpretation of angel lore. We want to shake our heads in denial of this reality, but simultaneously need to read as quickly as possible in order to absorb every detail we can, ready to battle with Alex and Willow against beings we would typically be rooting for in other stories.
In the beginning the alternating points of view take a bit of getting used to–the switch from third person Alex to first person Willow a bit jarring and disruptive–but once the story picks up and we find ourselves fully involved with their story, the change in perspective becomes significantly less noticeable. The relationship between Alex and Willow is fraught with tension, the revelation about Willow's half-angel nature creating an impregnable barrier between them we want nothing more than to bang our fists against as they travel together, wishing desperately for them to admit aloud what we know is churning within. There is nothing hurried or unbelievable about their connection, and by the time that barrier finally falls we are practically sweating with anticipation, wanting to luxuriate in the moments of happiness for we know they will be only fleeting.
The story itself is paced well after a slightly slower start, action interspersed with more quiet, emotionally powerful moments. Those few lulls can drive us a bit stir-crazy though–our skin feeling too tight and itchy as our impatience to know more about Willow and Alex, more about the angels, and more about what the future holds almost reaches its breaking point. The closer we get to the end the more we realize this story is nowhere near over, and we devour the last several chapters hoping for as many answers as possible before our exposure to a world that has become important to us vanishes with the turn of the final page. The wait for the next installment in the trilogy is going to be an excruciating one, and we can't help but peek in the back of the book days after finishing with the silly hope that maybe more chapters will have been written when we weren't looking, and perhaps there will be more Willow and Alex waiting for us if we just keep checking.