The third book in Harper Collins’ Dark Days of the Supernatural series is “Angelfire,” the debut novel by Courtney Allison Moulton and first volume in a triology.
For the most part Ellie is a normal high schooler who enjoys hanging out with a close-knit group of friends, going to the movies and shopping. Upon meeting her in the first chapter, she is a struggling student who spends most of her time in class bored, more interested in her 17th birthday party and finally getting a car. That is, normal except for the nightmares — every night Ellie is tormented by violent dreams featuring herself as a sword-wielding badass, battling monstrous reapers who hunt her in the darkness of the Grim, a world unseen by humans where demons live. Although terrifying, Ellie sees this torment as only nightmares, choosing to ignore them for the most part.
When Ellie meets Will, a 20-something hottie, her centuries-old past is awakened, including her connection to him, feeling she’s known him for years, as well as feeling on the verge of remembering secrets and a life before her own. On the night of her birthday, Will, who serves as her guardian, awakens Ellie’s power as Preliator, the only mortal in the world with the power to fight reapers and keep them from eating humans, dragging their souls to Hell to create a powerful army for the Second War between Lucifer and God — the Apocalypse.
Ellie has been fighting as Preliator for centuries but is slow to remembering her skills, purpose and history. It’s usually 18 years between cycles but Ellie’s soul has been asleep for over 40 years, for reasons unknown to her and Will, making fighting the battle between the angels and the Fallen even more difficult. Things are further complicated with Bastian, a powerful reaper who is working to awaken a supernatural being that can destroy Ellie’s soul forever and bring forth the End of Days.
This book is full of badass fight scenes with a young heroine who fights terrifying monsters and her own incertainty. The secrets of her past are slowly awakened, especially with help from Will, but mostly feature frightening events — including dying and being reborn over and over and “awakened” at age 17. I love this basis, taking a common human source of worry — God, Lucifer, Hell, demons, souls — and turning it into a trilogy. I also love Will’s character, a 600-year-old vigilante and guardian angel of sorts who is torn between his duty to protect Ellie and his centuries-old love for her, a love that is forbidden.
Ellie’s development throughout the book is believable and, although frustrating, understandable as she comes to grips with her existence as Preliator while confused by what she’s known for 17 years — she’s a normal, human teenager who urges for a normal life with plans for college and marriage. She must balance these desires for teenage activities, like movie nights with friends and homework, with her duties to save the human race from destruction. I enjoyed Ellie’s development as she learned more about her past, which leads to taking her job more seriously. This development was also enjoyable with the bond between Ellie and Will — full of romance mixed with Will’s duty as her protector and his ability to know when she is upset or troubled. He is the ultimate white knight.
The trouble with the book was the writing. At times it was bulky and constricting. There are books written with great detail to develop believable characters and add to the story and then there are books in need of a hacksaw to tighten the structure. While the author created believable characters, especially Ellie, a great story and world filled with frightening reapers and kickass battles, she could cut some of the book out. Clear and concise writing creates a good flow that is easier to understand, especially important with “Angelfire” since the concept is complicated — different types of reapers with different abilities, centuries old supernatural beings, myth vs. truth. I found myself editing some of the sentences. Maybe it’s my years spent working at a newspaper, but the golden rule from a former boss flooded by mind as I read this book: “Say the same thing in less words.”
Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for any teenager or adult looking for a female heroine and true romance mixed with dramatic fight scenes and dark, supernatural creatures. As Ellie tries to remember her past, she must believe in herself and her abilities as Preliator while also keeping the compassion for humanity she developed as a human.
The Dark Days of the Supernatural series continues to please, especially the next book, “Afterlife” by Claudia Gray. Vampires, ghosts, oh my!