Monday, 6 October 2008

A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix

This is the Kelley Armstrong bookclub book for October. The thread is well worth checking out this month as the author is answering questions, so if you've read the book and have a burning question you need to get off you chest you can find the thread here. If you're not a member of the board you might have to join, but it's free!

A Rush of Wings follows F.B.I. special agent Heather Wallace as she pursues a serial killer across the country. The trail has brought her to New Orleans, Club Hell and the rock musician Dante - a man who claimes to be a vampire. Heather believes Dante to be the killer's next victim, but the situation is so much more complicated than she could have imagined. As she tries to unravel the truth about Dante, she comes to realize she's just one small pawn in a much bigger game. Dante's past holds the key to everything, but the cost of him remembering may be more than she wants to pay.

I'm glad this was chosen as a bookclub book, it's one that I came very close to buying last December, even picked it up in the bookshop but in the end didn't buy.

A Rush of Wings is very much urban fantasy, if you prefer fluffier PNR, you're probably not going to like this one. It has vampires that are vampires, not angsty, sighing by the moonlit window guys and gals, these are the real, rip your throat out without breaking a sweat, deal.

Overall I very much enjoyed it. It has a multi-stranded plot which slowly comes together as the destinies of all the characters start to collide. Heather is torn between wanting to protect Dante - who in a nice change from the usual vampire novel is only 23 and several years younger than her - and acknowledging that she may need protecting from him. Heather is a strong heroine, she doesn't fall apart when she finds out about this other world that lives alongside our own, but neither does she meekly accept it either, which I thought was realistically done.

As well as vampires, the other main species introduced here are the Fallen (angels/Elohim). I don't want to give too much away, but the Fallen Lucien has chosen to set his path with that of Dante. I'm very much interested to see where this goes in future books as their relationship was somewhat unresolved at the end of the story. Lucien I think was the character who most left me wanting to know more.

Dante himself is a tortured hero. A victim of horrific abuse, he has a past he can't remember, and unfortunately seems to bring pain to those closest to him. Only half-vampire he has a power that he can't control and which, if he's not careful will bring him even more unwanted attention.

And I want to mention here that Adrian Phoenix has a wonderful way of describing her characters using scent which is very evocative.
His scent was frosty and clear, the first chilly breath of autumn.
There are also a couple of recurring motifs - the rush of wings, and references to the reshaper, the unmaker, which are worked throughout the story.

I loved the contrast and similarity between Heather and Dante. Heather who believes promises are made to be kept, not broken, but she knows that sometimes that's not possible. And Dante who never lies, and who can't forgive those who lie to him. As you read the story, it's almost inevitable that they'll come together, but the question of whether they'll be able to stay together has yet to be answered.

A couple of nitpicky problems. To begin with I was having a slight problem keeping track of who was doing what among the large cast of characters, but that's probably because the last few books I've read have either been first person or very tight third, so I'm a bit out of the habit of keeping track. After I got into the rhythm of the book and finally got Simone and Silver straight in my head, I was okay. What made it easier was the fact that the major characters are so well drawn.

The cover - I'm not sure if at any point Heather wears a leather bustier and mini-skirt. In fact her default mode of dress seemed to be trench coat. (I know authors have little control over their covers but it's a niggle and I'm mentioning it, just in case anyone was put off by the chick on the cover.)

And I didn't immediately cotton onto the fact that this is set slightly in the future. There are a couple of technological things that went over my head because I assumed that the book was set in the present. Chapter 4:-
The bartender swiped the debit spike...
So colour me a little slow when I'm trying to work out why the bartender wants a spike of metal. It's not until near the end of the book that credit/debit spikes are explained a little more, that I finally put two and two together and work out we're not quite in Kansas any more.

However, this is another series that I will be following, and I think this is perhaps one of the first books to bring in Angels to UF. A trend which I'm seeing more in current and upcoming books.

Book 2 - In The Blood (Jan 2009)


Naomi said...

Ah, I adored this book. Beautifully plotted and written, wonderful characters, and some of my favourite themes in any genre - angels, redemption and mad science, lol. Can't wait for In the Blood.

Tracy said...

Oh thank you for the review Lesley. A friend of mine sent this book to me a few months ago and it's just been sitting. Ok, a lot of my books are since I have so damned many of them but I keep looking at this one and trying to decide if I want to read it or not. I think you've swayed the book over to the read earlier than later category. :)

LesleyW said...

Naomi - I loved it too. Kind of kicking myself for not picking it up last year. Oh Well, better late than never.

Tracy - Hope you like it. There's also a little review over at Bookwyrms blog:-

If that'll help sway you further. :)