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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Chosen Chronicles: Angel of Death

Author: Karen Dales
Originally Published: 2009
Publisher: Dark Dragon Publications
Source: Purchased at Fan Expo

The Story

Angel of DeathThere are two books in this book, so I’ll have to explain the story of both.

First, there is The Changeling. This book tells the story of the person who will be the Angel in the rest of this series. It starts when he is born – without any pigment in his skin or hair, and bright red eyes – and cast out of his family. When his parents cast him out of their home, he is taken in by the woman he calls Auntie. She hides him in her home for 17 years, due to his appearance, until local villagers discover that his is living there and kill his Auntie as a result.

Fleeing from these villagers, the boy stays in hiding until he comes across a Chosen, and due to an accident is Chosen himself. This starts a new phase in the boy’s life, where he becomes one of the creatures who survive off human blood, who cannot survive the sunlight, and whose stealth is so much more than mortals.

Angel of Death takes place about 700 years after The Changeling. In this story, someone is killing off the Chosen (Vampires) of London through brutal poisonings. The Mistress of the London Vampires kidnaps Notus, the Angel’s Chooser and only companion, in order to convince the Angel to take up the quest to discover who is killing their kind.

This quest brings him into contact with other Chosen, and not only must he hide his differences from these Chosen, but he must learn how to trust them if he wants to get Notus out of the grasp of the Mistress and also stop the poisonings of the Chosen before it’s too late.

The Review

This is my second book for the RIP IV challenge.

Oh vampire fiction, I do have a bunch of conflicting emotions towards you. On one hand I love a good vampire story… but on the other hand I am so sick of romantic, not-scary-but-just-misunderstood vampire stories. And this one could have easily fallen into the romantic, not-scary-but-just-misunderstood category, but the author didn’t let it do that. Let me start by saying that yes, there is romance in this book. Yes there is the mortal who falls in love with the monster, and the monster loves her back… but it takes a sideline to the actual story, and isn’t distracting from exploring who is killing the Chosen. And that is ALL I am going to say about the romantic side story thing.

The first thing that stuck out to me about this story, when reading Changeling: Prelude to the Chosen, was how well Dales wove Welsh fairy lore into mainstream vampire lore. It’s believed that the Angel was a changeling before being Chosen… and the people in the area where he lived for the first part of his life believed him to be Gwyn ap Nudd. Even in Angel of Death there are some differences that make you question whether or not he is fey – like the fact that iron burns him. I loved this. And I loved that even at the end of both books, I was still not sure as to what the Angel was before becoming Chosen.

The second thing that stuck out to me was that this book would have been SO much better if it had been better edited. There are so many punctuation errors in the book to the point that it was distracting. Definitely a sad thing, because I wanted to dive into the book and get completely lost in it, but was distracted a lot because of this.

The two books in this book, Changeling and Angel of Death, seem so different so it’s hard for me to really go into them both here. They’re both quite good for different reasons. As I mentioned above, I loved the blending of fairy lore and vampire lore in the first one. It’s a slower moving story, with less action, but is more character driven. You really get to know the Angel before he becomes the Angel; you get to see how he became who he is in Angel of Death.

Angel of Death is much more plot-driven, and had twists and turns that left me surprised at certain events. It takes place in both London and France, and weaves past and present into the story to help the reader understand the characters involved a little bit better. (Though, I will totally admit that I wish there was more than the little bit provided about the Angel’s involvement in the Crusades and the Great Fire of London among other things.)

Okay. So thinking this over, I’ve realized that it’s going to be impossible for me to talk anymore about this book without revealing a major spoiler about it. So, if you don’t want to read this spoiler, please skip ahead to The Bottom Line.

What I think was best about this book, which sets it apart from the not-evil-but-totally-misunderstood vampire books that are so predominant in bookstores right now, is the fact that although the reader is led to believe that the Chosen are vampires, and even while the Chosen believe that they are vampires, it isn’t true. Real vampires reveal themselves throughout the book, and their behavior is much more terrifying, both in what they would do to accomplish their plan to eliminate all the Chosen, as well as what their presence can do to mortals. I applaud Dales for pulling this off, for taking what could have been a run-of-the-mill vampire story and turning it into something so different.

The Bottom Line

I would definitely recommend this book to vampire fans. Overall, a good solid read for both Changeling and Angel of Death. It was a nice change from the vampire fiction I’ve read recently, and I really loved the fairy aspect added to the Angel’s early life – adds to his mystery. I’m definitely looking forward to where Dales goes with this in the future.

Other Reviews

Bitten by Books. Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:51 pm October 18, 2009.
Category: Speculative Fiction
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