Angelfire, by Courtney Allison Moulton

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Publication date: February 15, 2011

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers – monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell – she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie’s powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her – an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie’s soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian’s most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives – including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Thoughts: I confess, I didn’t have high hopes for this book. It started out with a few bits that made me roll my eyes (girl seeing random guy from a distance and having tender feelings in her heart for him even though she’s never seen him before? Yawn…), but as I gave it more of a chance, it actually impressed me, and I closed the book feeling more satisfied than when I opened it.

The story centres around Ellie, who, through the course of the story, discovers not only that her terrifying nightmares are past-life memories, but that she’s also destined to destroy the demonic creatures that are killing people and sending their souls to Hell in order to beef up Lucifer’s army for the Second War against God. Woven into the story is her relationship with Will, her Guardian who has sworn to protect her even at the cost of his life. Each time Ellie dies, she is reborn, and Lucifer’s armies are searching for a weapon that could destroy Ellie completely and prevent her future rebirths.

Moulton certainly does have a talent for writing teenagers as teenagers, not some saccharine uber-teen who never puts a toe out of line and always manages to balanace everything in their lives except for when it’s a plot point for them to mess up. These kids drink, they get sexy, they have parental issues, and fret about their homework while simultaneously blowing it off. They were very real, and very easy to relate to. Even for me, and considering that I was the ultimate outcast when I was a teen, that’s saying something!

The novel does have a few weaknesses, but they may be getting a little picky. Lauren’s surname of Tsukino hearkened to Japanese episodes of Sailor Moon, and lo and behold, Ellie’s internal monologue mentions she has Sailor Moon DVDs. (Methinks the author’s a fan…) Ellie is revealed to be the archangel Gabriel in human form… and nobody thinks it’s odd that an established male angel according to mythology keeps being reborn as a female, to the point where even the archangel Michael calls her his sister. Perhaps later books in the trilogy will address the gender discrepancy, I don’t know.

The book did also give way to a bit of sexism even as it tried to break the mold. Comments like, “You don’t exactly hit like a girl,” and the statement that all girls are hardwired to want a white knight in their lives left me annoyed; as much as this book does have a hefty dose of girl-power and a kick-ass female protagonist, it did fall prey to gender stereotypes. I can chalk that up to realism in the characterization (let’s face it, people still think that way very often), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it when it appears.

But aside from that, Angelfire was a surprisingly good book, well thought out, and it balanced action and intrigue with dialogue and information-feeding. Considering I went into the book skeptical as to whether I’d enjoy it, I’d say it was a success, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy when it’s released, and more of Moulton’s work later on.

This book was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

2 comments on “Angelfire, by Courtney Allison Moulton

  1. Good review – I've been reluctant to pick up many more books which cover the 'destined' love affair for a teenage paranormal – there seems to loads around! If it's better than expected than that's good to know! :-)

  2. Regarding the 'Sailor Moon' thing, unless she's ripping off story material, I don't think that throwing in a bit of homage is a “weakness.” Nice review overall, though.

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