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Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singh

archangels kiss nalini singh Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singh

Ever since a giant package of Nalini Singh books arrived in my letterbox mid last year, Ive become a bit of a fan of Ms Singh. To be honest, Im a poor urban fantasy reader at the best of times, and the thoughts of weres and vamps and alpha males gives me a wee case of the heebies. But Singh, though still going through the authorial teething process, is generally very good at what she does. In fact, this is the sixth of her books that Ive read, which is saying something. The fact that I keep returning to these books despite my (admittedly mostly unfair) misgivings is certainly a point in the authors favour.


When Elena wakes from a year-long coma, shes a changed person. So changed, in fact, that shes scarcely a person any more at all. In fact, in order to save her life, her archangel partner Raphael has transformed her into an angel of sortssomething thats not looked upon kindly by, well, anyone. And Elena is still weak and unused to her new state, making her more vulnerable than shes ever been in her life. But when those around her start dying, Elena knows that she has to act fast, or her new-found immortality may well fail her

My thoughts

Archangels Kiss is the second in the Guild Hunter series, and picks up in the messy wake of its predecessor. But while the setting is ripe for some interesting shenanigans, positioning the reader for a story filled with butt-kicking and vampire sleuthin, things simply flail for the first few hundred pages or so. This, in part, is due to the fact that Elena, who spends the previous book getting all Buffy-esque on everyone in sight, is still struggling to convalesce. Thus, we spend rather a good deal of time watching Elena attempt to adjust to her new surroundings, adjust to her new sense of self, and so forth. While this would all be fine and dandy in a book thats heavy on the characterisation and prose, it doesnt work in a Nalini Singh novel, particularly given the expectations set by the previous novel in the series. I felt that for much of this book Singh is collecting her thoughts about what is to happen in the subsequent editions, and that what unfolds in this novel is a sort of half-hearted doodling on the page.

The plot, where it does start to kick in, is a complicated one with numerous facets, but which I found didnt unfold especially evenly. Mid-way through the book we shift from sex scenes and bed sheets over to evil angels and murders galore, and Elena not only finds out that theres a price on her own head, but on the heads of a host of others, as well. Theres a sudden emphasis on the politics of the world of the archangels, but its one that just doesnt feel especially believable. For example, I found it hard to get on board with the fact that the immensely powerful individuals making an attempt on Elenas life would struggle to succeed, particularly given her weakened state. But there are other elements that dont quite work, either, and many of these are to do with character motivation. While Singh is working hard to get inside the head of her immortal characters, much of what her angels do is just simply hard to stomach as a reader, and the sudden character revelations we become privy to just dont quite workthose involving Michaela, for example, I thought were particularly confusing. All in all, the plot is a crooked one that doesnt come together in a cohesive whole, and leaves the reader with an array of wh? questions.

Perhaps the greatest flaw of this book is one that is going to be an issue throughout the seriesthe relationship between Raphael and Elena. The series, after all, is ostensibly a paranormal romance, which entails that roughly half of its exposition must involve random acts of sex, descriptions of scents and eye-colour, and skimpy warrior outfits (sorry, Ms Singh, but even Xena couldnt kick butt in four-inch stilettos. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?). But I just dont feel the chemistry between these two. In fact, the fact that Elena has been reduced to a position of weakness does something rather awful to the power dynamics of this relationship, and I found myself feeling distinctly uncomfortable at numerous points throughout this book. Raphael seems to revel in the fact that hes a gentleman for not incessantly taking advantage of Elena, despite his constant threats to do so, and Elena seems to be trying to convince herself that life with such a man is not so bad after all. Given that Elena was positioned in the first book as someone so strong and independent, Im not sure I like that she has to be taken down a notch or two in order to see how well she and Raphael are apparently matched. Staying in a relationship with a man who constantly raves about how he could smite you or kill you isnt something that should be endorsed, and I cant help but feel that Elena has some attachment/Stockholm syndrome issues that need to be addressed rather quickly indeed for me to keep reading this series.

And its not just the ickiness between Raphael and Elena thats an issue here. Im not sure theres a kindly, undisturbed person in this entire universe. Each individual we meet seems to be inherently sadistic, and this book has more dark pasts than a world lost in an eternal eclipse. Theres a darkness here that becomes deeply disturbing after a while, and the constant references to rape, murder, flagellation, child abuse, and more did have me questioning my tastes as a reader.

Still, as seems to be the case with all of her books so far, Singhs great skill is in world-building, and this is what kept me plodding through this lukewarm outing. Singh continues to paint a world that is endlessly fascinating, and which feels internally cohesive. In addition, while her writing is characterised by her usual short, staccato sentences, many of the quirks and crutch-words so evident in her earlier books have now been ironed out (I think a hand fisted only oncealthough admittedly characters eyes still seem to flash, blast, blaze, and do all sorts of fiery things).


Archangels Kiss is a disappointing outing from an author who usually surprises with her world-building and witty plotting, and the book struggles beneath the weight of its paranormal romance trapping, its incessant efforts to create sexual tension, and a plot that feels tacked on. One can only hope that in the next book Ms Singh slips a plank of wood beneath the narrative of this vehicle in order to get 'it moving once more.

Rating: star Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singhstar Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singhhalfstar Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singhblankstar Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singhblankstar Book Review: Archangels Kiss by Nalini Singh (not bad)

Purchase Archangels Kiss from'Amazon |'Book Depository UK |'Book Depository USA


See our review of Angels Blood, Guild Hunter #1

See our review of'Slave to Sensation, Psy-Changeling #1

See our review of'Visions of Heat, Psy-Changeling # 2

See our review of'Caressed by Ice, Psy-Changeling #3

Other books by Nalini Singh:


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  1. Ive only read the first in the series because I tend to favour urban fantasy of paranormal romance. Its a series on my someday list.
    Thanks for sharing your review

    Shelleyrae recently posted..Giveaway- Quest of the Demon by ML Sawyer

  2. Stephanie /

    My pleasure, Shelley Rae. Im more of an UF fan, too, and I think thats why Im struggling with these. That, and my loathing of alpha males! :)

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