Nalini Singh is one of the more consistent authors I’ve read and I enjoy her writing. She is especially good with great characters and relationships and in this regard, Archangel’s Shadow is no exception.
While I had always liked Ash and Janvier and what little I read of their interaction, I had my reservations when Singh announced that they were the main couple in the upcoming book. They are fine characters, I was just unsure if they could carry the entire book all on their own. Turns out, I needn’t have worried because while they are the main protagonists, we see enough old faces that they end up sharing the burden and the limelight.
Archangel’s Shadow deals with the fall out of Lijuan’s attack on New York. The city is getting back on its feet and while things do seem to going smoothly at the moment, there is a sense of unease in the air. There is an increase in bloodlust among the vampire populace, a very powerful and potent new drug aimed solely at vampires that turns them into ravenous monsters and the desiccated bodies of women that start turning up. None of this augurs well for the a on the mend. Janvier and Ashwini are tasked with investigating these events and as it turns out, they are connected in more ways than one.
My primary issue with the book was that there’s a huge part in the middle where this problem almost gets pushed to the background and we get more involved with Ash and Janvier. This also would have been okay but there was hardly any progress on that front either. It was almost Singh forgot the reason these two had come together. It was impossible for me to put aside Archangel’s Legion and yet with this one, it didn’t interest quite that much. It is also a fairly slow paced narrative and there are multiple POVs, which might just be the one saving graces of the book. The central mystery also didn’t interest me all that much. It seemed like something that was primarily meant to bring these two characters together and the actual solving of said mystery was just an added bonus (should they ever get around to it)
Of the two series by Singh, I prefer Guild Hunter primarily because the number of characters is limited (to an extent) so the characters here are richer. Ash and Janvier are great characters, I’m just not sure if they were main protagonist material. Ash was a strong and capable heroine. Independent and used to taking care of herself but also not careless with her safety. Janvier was possibly one of the sweetest guys in the Guild Hunter series. He was considerate with Ash and despite his own feelings; he didn’t push her in any way. He was content with waiting for her to realise her own feelings. Their light-hearted banter was sweet. Having said that, they still weren’t all that interesting. I found myself looking forward to reading some of the other characters’ POV, they came as welcome relief. Or when they finally got back to the investigation.
Elena and Raphael are my favourite characters in this series and I am more than partial where these two are concerned so I was thrilled with how much time they got in the novel. I love their banter and just how secure they are with each other. I never tire of reading about them. (can we please have more Ellie and Raphael books, please! :D) While I still want Ellie to blow away the others with a sudden surge in her own power, I also know that it’s not going to happen anytime soon (Singh herself clarified that) But we see her taking on more responsibilities that come with being an Archangel’s consort and managing them admirably. Raphael, for his part, is slowly coming to accept that the mortal populace is more than mere cattle, that having them on their side, has its own advantages. He is starting to view them as individuals and not as disposable or as a source of food. It was also amusing to see Elena get stressed when she learned that Caliane was coming to visit. These two aren’t going to be close anytime soon but it was still a welcome relief that Caliane was willing to look at Elena as a capable and fitting companion to her son and to see in her own right, as a hunter.
Then there’s Dimitri, who was pretty much the same (though maybe he’s thawing the slightest bit when it comes to Ellie) Illium was lovable as always and I really want to read a book where he’s the main protagonist, especially since, this time there were hints of a growing darkness within him. I want to know more about him. There were also Aodhan and he too seems to be returning to the world. But it was Naasir who pretty much stole every scene he was in. He was so different even from the other vampires and yet he could be so adorable and charming. Definitely want to see more of him.
The other problem I had with was the use of Hindi phrases and names in the book. The one or two Hindi sentences used here seemed a little stilted. I live in India and I speak the language, and even I don’t talk like that. They seemed very formal. The other problem is the names. Names like Neha, Ashwini and even Tanushree are fine, but then you have others like Mahiya which just sound wrong. They seem like a tourist’s idea of an Indian name. This is one aspect that I think could use a little more work on Singh’s part.
Archangel’s Shadow may not be quite as good or entertaining as some of the previous books in the series but it certainly has its good moments and I really enjoyed for the characters and the relationships that bind them together. Those are a real treat and something that Singh is exceptionally good at building. Now, I can’t wait to find out who the next book is about (I am hoping and praying that its Illium)