Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Angelfire

ANGELFIRE (Angelfire #1)
Courtney Allison Moulton
Paranormal Young Adult
464 Pages
Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books
Available February 15th
Received from publisher via NetGalley

Ellie considers herself pretty normal. She has normal problems like escalating tension between her parents and the gradual decrease in her grade point average. What is not normal are her nightmares. Every night she sees herself killing and being killed by great monsters who revel in the taste of her blood.

With the horrific murder of one of her teachers and the sudden appearance of attractive and mysterious Will, Ellie's whole view of normalcy is radically changed. According to Will, she's an ancient being sent from above and placed in a mortal body to wield angelfire, thus destroying the demonic reapers that feed on innocent souls and trap them in Hell for all eternity.

As it turns out, Ellie is the only one capable of harnessing angelfire, and Will has been her Guardian for the past five hundred years. Upon her death, she is reincarnated in another mortal body and raised in a human family until her powers are ready to be awakened. Only this version of Ellie can't remember all of her history despite her awakening, and as she attempts to learn her abilities all over yet again, the demonic reapers are uncovering a way to destroy not only her body, but her very soul, thus eliminating her forever instead of a paltry seventeen years.

Fun, fast, and full of action, Angelfire never gives us the opportunity the get up and walk away, forcing us to keep our noses firmly adhered to the pages as we voraciously consume every morsel of information provided. It's a beautifully balanced story, one where the supernatural is tempered by the regular trials and tribulations of a teenage girl, where impressive fight sequences are offset by quiet moments wrought with romantic tension, and where the overpowering weight of responsibility is paralleled by a light-hearted humor. No single element dominates the story and we are spared some of the prominent plot devices running rampant in paranormal young adult fiction, leaving us with a story that perhaps isn't as profound in the emotions it evokes as some, but one that keeps us thoroughly entertained and constantly questioning, reminding us with every devoured page why it is we enjoy getting lost in books so very much.

Utterly refreshing in her acceptance of the supernatural, Ellie surprises us after her initial understandable denial by fully embracing a destiny that has haunted her dreams with its violence and bloodshed. Her moments of "o woe is me" are blissfully limited as we read on with unabashed eagerness, just waiting for the physical strength and mental confidence of Ellie's past incarnations to catch up with her present mortal body. She brandishes some wickedly curved blades with enviable skill, yet remains completely accessible as she juggles her new preternatural obligations with her desire to cling to what is normal and understood–fending off the unwanted affections of a best friend and nursing a foreign yet intimately familiar connection to Guardian Will. It's in these moments of relatable emotional unease, both romantically and between her family members, that Ellie truly wins us over, her fighting prowess impressive but her mental and emotional insecurities ensuring the formation of a tangible character and reader bond.

The lack of a love triangle scenario is yet another welcome exclusion from this story, with Will being the only male of interest, and their relationship progresses at a gloriously reserved pace as they get to know one another again despite multiple lifetime's worth of knowledge. We sense this latest version of Ellie varies more significantly from those who came before, and her temporary amnesia leaves Will on equally unsteady footing in terms of his feelings, unsure as to where he stands with her when she can't remember their shared past. Though Will isn't quite as memorably attractive as some other notable male protagonists, and his utter subservience to Ellie outside times of training or battle is a bit grating at times, the chemistry between them is undeniable–the strands of history connecting them pulled so taut they seem to dangerously vibrate in time to our thudding heartbeats, each loud thump echoing in our chests bringing those fine threads, and them, that much closer to sensually snapping. The tension seems to be a character in and of itself; a living, breathing, pulsing, entity radiating from the pages in waves we greedily inhale as we lick our lips in anticipation of feeling that blistering warmth on our faces one more time.

Completing the sense of balance and leaving us fully satisfied is an ending where the details of the first leg of Ellie's journey are thoroughly explained and her mission accomplished. We aren't left with a teasing last sentence or a taunting epilogue, instead able to close the back cover with a pleasant sense of fulfillment and a strong, but not frustrating, desire to continue onward with Ellie and Will. There are enough questions remaining, along with a multitude of interesting characters in place, that the second installment shouldn't feel like a forced continuation of a completed story, and it will hopefully be sure to stand as alone as this first book has while returning us to a world that pairs angels with demons, romance with mystery, and a troubled past with an uncertain future.

Rating: 4/5


  1. No love triangle AND a satisfying ending?? I may have to move this one up to the top if my TBR!

  2. I agree with Vampires and Tofu . No love triangle in a YA book is always refreshing! Angelfire has been sitting on my TBR for a long time. I want to read it soon .
    Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  3. I wasn't sure about Angelfire but after your review I will be definitely reading it. I love paranormal books that are action packed and fast paced. Another great review Jenny :)

  4. I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this book for some time and am happy that your review is so positive. Angelfire will be my Valentine gift to me.

  5. This is on my wanted list, and it looks so good! I can't wait for it to come out!! A great review!

  6. YAY! I am so glad you like this book! I loved every moment of it. It was such a good read I finished it fast. Great review Jenny :)

  7. I hadn't thought about the fact that there wasn't a love triangle. That was nice. I surprisingly enjoyed this book. I thought some of the dialogue was awful and couldn't understand why Ellie kept insisting on going to parties when her life was at stake (although it was laudable that she tried to stay a normal teenager). Despite my qualms about the book, I thought that mythology was very interesting. Will was great - although I know what you mean about the subservience. And I liked Ellie's friends.

  8. Great review! I like that you said there is a no love triangle. I need a break from that. I am excited for this one!

  9. I like love triangles, but it's definitely good to take a break from them once in a while! I missed out on this one on Netgalley (I didn't have the time to get to it), so I may have to pick up a copy soon. Loved your review!

  10. Nice review. There is a real art to writing a book that ends satisfyingly, but with enough loose ends to warrant a sequel. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

  11. Angelique - It was really nice to have the first book in a series stand alone and just one male love interest - glorious!

    Misha - Hope you like it! I think this one will be hit or miss with a lot of people, but I enjoyed it:)

    Nic - Thanks! I flew threw it:)

    Jan - Looking forward to your thoughts on it after Valentine's Day!

    BookAddictedGirl - I hope you like it when you get your hands on it, I'm really excited for the next book in the series:)

    Savy - I finished fast as well, I kept wanting to know what was going to happen and if she'd remember everything!

    Alison - I kept waiting for another guy to enter the picture to challenge Will, and I was so glad when that didn't happen:) I enjoyed the mythology as well, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Will and Ellie's relationship goes in the next book.

    Christina - Me too, it was refreshing!

    Leanna - I like love triangles too, but I was a little burnt out on them when I started this one so it was a very nice change:)

  12. Oh, I think this sounds fabulous, and I'm SO happy to hear there's no cliffhanger at the end. Those kill me! Great review, Jenny!

  13. Madigan - Exactly! I thought she did a great job leaving just enough questions to keep us interested but not so many that we're throwing the book across the room in frustration!

  14. No love triangle and a cool chick ? Sounds awesome.

  15. I didn't think not having a love triangle and a satisfying ending for the first book of a series is possible. Looking forward to reading this one and hopefully, it will pull me out of my reading slump. Thanks for the review Jenny!

  16. Yay I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I have it on my nook! Nice to hear about a paranormal that doesn't involve a love triangle. ;)

  17. Wonderful review, as always :) I'm so happy to hear the end wraps up nicely. I've heard some pros and cons about the main relationship, so I'm a little iffy about it. Hopefully I'll be able to decide for myself soon.

  18. I started reading this book a few days ago but haven't picked it up since :( I think with my current funk I need to just step away from it and come back to it. The few pages I read were really good, but if you are in a crabby mood, nothing really sounds good lol. I loved reading your review and it makes me excited to pick it back up when the time is right!

  19. I keep hearing mixed reviews for this one but after you said she accepts her fate and no love triangle...hmmm.
    Seriously people - if you have cool new powers or you're a werewolf have fun! That's awesome! Sure someone's always after you but

  20. *squee* No evil cliffy, no love triangle... Yup, you totally sold me on this one!

    I remember reading a story about reincarnation before that completely let me down, but sometime about Ellie seems different, almost like she is channeling Buffy!

    Exciting, exuberant review. Thanks Jenny.

  21. Thanks for your review Jenny !! I've heard great things about this one and I Can't wait to read it !! There really are awesome debuts this year !!
    A big thank you for stopping so often by my blog, you're so sweet =) !!

  22. Melissa - I was really excited about the lack of cliffhanger as well, it definitely made me appreciate this one a little more and I was able to gloss over some of the small things that bothered me because it didn't fall prey to the parnormal YA formula:)

    Juju - Right? I was pretty pleased with it:)

    Rummanah - I didn't either, which is why this one was so pleasantly surprising!

    Mollie - So true, I loved just having one boy to focus on:)

    Small - It does wrap up nicely - huge bonus! Not everyone will like Ellie and Will, but they kept me entertained and sometimes that's enough:)

    Tara - I've been in a funk lately too! I read this one a while ago and I breezed right through it, so I hope when your funk passes you give it another try to see if you like it:)

    Karen - I can definitely see how this one will be hit or miss with people, especially the angel side of things, but I liked it:)

    Missie - I could have done a happy dance when I got to the end and there was still only Will and not haunting last line!

    Elodie - You're welcome, I look forward to seeing what you think! And I really enjoy your blog, so I like stopping in each day!

  23. Yes, I think I'm sold on this one too. This was an impressive review. I really do prefer stand alones, so I'd like to try this one.

  24. LOL I'm like so used to there being some of love triangle in every book I read so Angelfire does sound refreshing in that there is none. Great review!

  25. Great review Jenny!

    Funny, this book has been on the reviewing circle for so long I totally thought it was out already LMAO =P

  26. Oh yes... I do want to read this one. No cliffhanger? Oh yea baby! I hate those more than almost anything. This does sound so refreshing. Thanks for the rockin' review!

  27. Midnyte - Thank you! I love when a book in a series still stands alone as it's own complete story, that doesn't always happen:)

    Jenny - Me too, I almost didn't know what to do when it was just Will:)

    Larissa - Thanks! It definitely has been making the rounds, and I think is worth the read:)

    Melissa - No cliffhanger! Yay!

  28. Wee! Action+humour+no love triangle+no cliffhanger=awesome. Looking forward to reading this!

  29. I have been looking forward to this book for months and my UPS guy is being so gosh darn slow in delivering my package! And I must agree with Aylee.... "Action+humour+no love triangle+no cliffhanger=awesome. Looking forward to reading this!"

    Thanks for the great review Jenny!
    Have an awesome weekend!

  30. Aylee - That about sums it up in my opinion:)

    Avery - Silly UPS men, they don't understand what our books mean to us! Hope you like it as much as I did:)

  31. No love triangle! Wow. I'm shocked. It seems like almost every book today has one. How refreshing. I like a good cliffhanger though. However, not if I have to wait a year till I read the next book or one that has me scratching my head going "huh?" Sounds like this has some great action with a fulfilling story and solid characters. Can't wait to read this one! Fab review :)

  32. I've seen some mixed reviews for this one so it's a good thing that you liked it since I love the premise. Plus, yay for no love triangles!

  33. Wait, no love triangle? And a strong female heroine to boot? I am more than sold - it was on my TBR pile for a time being, but now that you've validated its read-worthiness, I'm definitely going to go out and get a copy! Great review as always Jenny.