Author: Meljean Brook
Type: Paranormal (but in a class, literally a class, by itself)
Blurb: For two thousand years, Lilith wrought vengeance upon the evil and the damned, gathering souls for her father's armies Below and proving her fealty to her Underworld liege. Bound by a bargain with the devil and forbidden to feel pleasure, she draws upon her dark powers and serpentine grace to lead men into temptation. That is, until she faces her greatest temptation—Heaven's own Sir Hugh Castleford...
Once a knight and now a Guardian, Hugh spent centuries battling demons—and the cursed, blood-drinking nosferatu. His purpose has always been to thwart the demon Lilith, even as he battles his treacherous hunger for her. But when a deadly alliance unleashes a threat to both humans and Guardians in modern-day San Francisco, angel and demon must fight together against unholy evil—and against a desire that has been too long denied...
Why: Blogger reviews back in 2007. I know, my TBR list is aging like fine wine.
Thoughts: Hard to pin down I think, because it took me three weeks to read Demon Angel. That is a long time to spend with one book—long enough for the forces of my life to overpower the forces in Brook’s remarkable story. I’ll do my best however, to sort my reaction or experience from the rest of the clutter.
1. From the first page, reading Demon Angel transported me back to one of those stand-out periods in college—a lit class devoted to Milton’s Paradise Lost. I’d grant Brook whatever book-of-the-year award necessary just to say thank you for the vivid recollection of that wonderful experience. I loved that class.
2. And maybe it was the lit feel of Demon Angel that explains why I read it so slowly, taking time and care with its complexities, savoring its power.
3. Not escapism in the usual sense. More like an appreciation of the effort that went into its making.
4. Which is both good and bad. Good, because I found Brook’s prose, characters and story riveting. Bad, because there were moments when it felt like studying instead of reading for pleasure.
5. I even went so far as to read two other books during the interim—something I absolutely never do. I am a seriously monogamous reader. Here though, I squeezed in J.D. Robb’s Eternity In Death (easily rationalized because it was a brief respite found in an anthology) and Janet Evanovich’s Fearless Fourteen (also easily rationalized because Plum reads are fast reads and it was due back at the library the next day). Still, there was guilt.
6. So, between the distraction afforded by Eve, Roarke and Stephanie and some sudden, debilitating back pain (long story), I’m having a hard time bringing the memory of Demon Angel into focus. Let’s see…
7. Timeframe. Epic, but not in the generations way of Thorn Birds. More like a sweeping historical journey—through spiritual worlds many readers already know and fear. Another slash in the this-is-not-escapism column. Not at all like the pure fantasy of Liu or Singh. No, Brook’s depiction of heaven and hell is far more personal, more disturbing.
8. Characterization. I’ve no words. No way to adequately describe the connection recognized between Hugh and Lilith in their first meeting. Followed immediately by some of the most powerful H/H exchanges I’ve ever read—moments when the reader almost struggles to comprehend the depths already forged between them. We know they are destined for something in the same way we believe that our lives—in their entirety—are already known by God. Both frightening and comforting—that constant blade of control versus trust. It is the crux of Demon Angel. Or it was for me anyway.
9. Brook’s H/H ride that blade from beginning to end. Phenomenal really. I defy anyone to find another H/H with such insurmountable obstacles. In any given paranormal, the reader expects (and accepts) the world-builder to install an out, a means around or through the conflict for the H/H. But because Brook’s world does not feel entirely of her own making, the reader can’t be so sure. I mean how easy is it for you to envision Lilith making a break from the devil? Insurmountable. Scary. Utterly heartbreaking.
10. And Hugh? When not even the power of God can save her? Where does that leave him? If you haven’t read it, just try to imagine the kind of rage and despair that impotence evokes. If you have read it, then you know.
11. Plot. Admittedly hard to follow. Brook lost me more than once. And despite retracing my steps every time, I still had a hard time assimilating every layer of action and history. These were the moments I referred to—where it felt more like studying, like I HAD to get this before I could move on. Perhaps too much pressure for a pleasure read and sure to result in another year passing before I read the next installment in Brook’s Guardian series.
12. Ending. As complex as the beginning and middle. But absolutely right.
Stunning, just breathtaking.
Challenging and literary.
Devastatingly, crushingly romantic.
With perfect smart-ass humor and kick-ass attitude.
14. Finally, if this were my copy, I’d house it on my keeper shelf. Next to Milton, not Garwood.