Sunday, 20 May 2007

If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl


Yes I know the last review had this warning, but I'm being honest here. :)

If Angels Burn is the first of Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series. It tells the story of Alexandra Keller a reconstructive surgeon who is kidnapped and forced to repair the face of Michael Cyprien - reclusive millionaire and member of the Darkyn. Unbeknownst to Alexandra once she has entered the world of the Darkyn it's going to be much harder to leave. For as well as secrets, the Darkyn have enemies - the Brethren.

I love how Lynn Viehl writes her characters. I get an immediate sense of who Alexandra Keller is - the fact that she is far from perfect and makes mistakes. It's how she deals with those mistakes and their consequences that make her such a ballsy character. She is constantly re-evaluating whatever situation she finds herself in and acting in accordance with that information. A heroine that thinks.

This book is marketed as a paranormal romance and I think some readers will be disappointed by the lack of romantic romance in the story. It's much more a story of relationships - the ones we choose, the families we make, the families/friends we are given. And it's not just the relationship between the protagonists. Alex has a dysfunctional relationship with her brother John - one of the main subplots. From reading other reviews I know some readers would prefer less time be spent with John. But I think there is definitely more going on there than we are aware of, apparent when you go back and read about the things he goes through and what he does.

As this is a re-read for me and I've read the following books I was able to count out the various plot threads that started in book 1 - I counted nine and could have missed some :) . Some of them are only hints but it's fascinating to look back and see where the seed of a plot was first planted. One of the things I love is not being able to predict where the story is going, and also not knowing which parts of the story are going to have greater relevance later in the series.

Readers should be aware that Michael and Alex's continuing story is one of the main plot threads throughout the series. The story of their relationship does not end here. And as such the ending is not a nice, neat conclusion.

This first book in the series is not the start of one story but of many stories, only some of which are resolved ( or apparently resolved) here. If you prefer a story where everything is neatly wrapped up at the end, then perhaps this is not for you. If however you prefer a more complex story, with interweaving plotlines, where characters make the best of the bad situations in which they find themselves and don't always behave in an honourable manner. Then it's well worth checking out.


Nicole said...

I'm a fangirl of this series, too. A less-rabid one*, perhaps, but a fangirl all the same.

I loved If Angels Burn. I've only read the first two in the series so far, but that's mainly because of my book-buying diet. And the library doesn't have this series. So I have to read the Darkyn books a little at a time.

My biggest problem with IAB was not the lack of romantic romance, but one particular torture scene that went further than I am comfortable with. I appreciate that it shows insights into characters that wouldn't be shown with a more... sanitized version of the scene, but still. A bit much for me. The rest of the book? Wonderful. (And that one scene was not nearly enough to put me off the series.)

(*not implying that you are a rabid fangirl. Just that this is not one of the series that *I* am a rabid fangirl about.) :)

LesleyW said...

LOL - you're safe Nicole. I'm not a rabid fangirl. I think for the most part as long as people have constructive things to say I'm always curious as to their take on what I've been reading. It's always interesting to see how other people interpret things differently.

I wondered if this was a scene with the Brethren? If so, I think it was maybe included to try and blur the line between who we think the monsters are.

I'm reading The Turning at the moment - a book which I wasn't sure about, but which I'm enjoying. However, I'm finding some of it hard to get through. But as I think that's the point, I'm reasonably okay with it.

Nicole said...

The scene in question is where Alex's human friend (who was helping her) gets tortured and killed. I'm not sure why that one crossed a line for me and other scenes haven't, but there you go.

LesleyW said...

Ahhh, when I was trying to remember which scene you were talking about, I must have blanked that one.

It is a scene that I also find disturbing and unpleasant. And not one I dwell on when I re-read. I can only think it was meant to show what would happen to John if Angelique ever got her hands on him.