Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Serpent in Heaven by Charlaine Harris: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

The Serpent in Heaven by Charlaine Harris

The Serpent in Heaven is the fourth book in Gunnie Rose alt-history fantasy series that takes place in alternative 1930s America that has been divided to several new countries after the Great Depression. Britannia in the east coast is ruled by the British, and former California and Oregon form the Holy Russian Empire ruled by the Tzar Alexei, the haemophilic son of Nikolai II, now an adult. Texas and Oklahoma form Texoma, where the series originally took place, following Lizbeth Rose, a sharpshooter who hires herself as a guard on dangerous missions through the lawless state.

The previous book moved the focus to San Diego, where the Tzar’s court is, and to the machinations of courtiers and grigoris, the powerful magic wielders that are allowed to operate openly in the empire. This book ditched Gunnie completely and focused on her half-sister Felicia, who as a granddaughter of Rasputin is one of the few people whose blood can alleviate the Tzar’s haemophilia.

The change in the point of view was good and put a new gear in the story. In the previous books, Felicia has been the target of people who want to kill all the Tzars blood donors. Now she’s a student in a school for grigoris, trying to lay low, and going through a freakish growth spurt that brings her up to speed with her real age, fifteen, after her father had suppressed her growth with magic for years to keep her safe.

But she isn’t as unnoticeable as she had hoped. While the school empties during an epidemic of Spanish flu, her dead mother’s family comes gunning for her. Their motivation is a bit lame and doesn’t really justify the body-count that ensues. Most of it was caused by Felicia who discovers she is more powerful magic practitioner than she had known.

This was maybe my favourite book in the series so far. The world is more familiar, there was more magic, and the story was fairly straight-forward. Felicia was a very different character from Gunnie, but I liked her voice and character. Having grown up in the slums of Mexico, she was tough and resilient. However, I would’ve liked some reaction from her to all the deaths she caused, but like with Gunnie, they didn’t affect her at all.

The romance was sweet, though maybe unnecessary at this point, especially with all the drama. She’ll end up bossing Peter around if they stay together. Felix was my favourite side character, but others were good too. Gunnie only made a cameo appearance, but she wasn’t needed. All in all, I hope the following books continue with Felicia’s story.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Archangel’s Resurrection by Nalini Singh: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

Archangel's Resurrection by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series has advanced to its fifteenth book. What began as a series about vampire hunting woman and her archangel, has expanded to an entire world of vampires, angels, and archangels. In Archangel’s Resurrection the world expands even more, tens of thousands of years into the past.

We follow Alexander through his childhood and advancement in ranks over the millenia, until he becomes the Archangel of Persia. He’s already thousands of years old when he meets Zanaya who is only at the beginning of her journey to become the Archangel of North Africa, and he’s willing to wait a thousand years more, until they’re more equal in strength, to start their first romance.

It’s a story of two powerful, stubborn archangels who love for a thousand years and fight for another, only to return to each other to start the cycle of toxic love affair again. But neither can let the other completely go, even when Zanaya choses to sleep for ten thousand years to avoid the madness of angels.

The first half of the book is fairly slow, the details brushed over, with only brief moments of the two together. And when Zanaya finally awakens in the modern world, it’s only to perish at the hands of the Archangel of Death, and so Alexander has to wait a decade more for her to heal.

The main story happens in the last third of the book. Zanaya and Alexander are finally mature enough to break the cycle of stubbornness and anger and become vulnerable enough with each other to let the other in to start a proper relationship. There’s also some aftermath of the war with Lijuana to deal with that threatens to destroy their newfound happiness.

Despite the tempo difference between the two halves, this was a good book. It was interesting to see what the long lifespan of angels does to them, and to meet familiar names from earlier books. The toxic romance was a change of pace too and kept the story fresh. In the end though, I couldn’t help wishing that it hadn’t taken them quite that long to get to their senses. The ending hints at the next romance, which will likely be even longer in the timespan than this one. I can’t wait to read it.