by: Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #11
When I first read this back in 2018, I couldn’t even manage to write a proper review. Part of it was the emotional wringer that this book put me through. (A large) part of it was the fact that it ended on the worst sort of cliff-hanger. Understandable, but god damn it hurt. It was hard to even put the book down knowing that it’d be a year before I had any sort of answers.
And though I trust Nalini Singh down to my bones to give me the happily-ever-after that I want to see these characters get, I always worry. I picked up this book the first time with worry in my heart. The world that Nalini Singh has created here is not an easy one. Immortality is not the gift that it may immediately seem. Death and destruction, horror and terror – they all live easily in this world. They permeate the air and poison the waters, until you know – deep in your heart – that it’s entirely possible no one is safe.
Especially those that surround Archangels. Because while it’s incredibly hard to kill an archangel, it’s much easier to do damage to their friends, loved-ones, and everyone under their protection and care. There are so many people surrounding Raphael that I adore, Elena and his Seven chief amongst them.
Elena is, by far, the most vulnerable member of Raphael’s sphere, being an angel-Made new. She should be growing into her immortality and her power, but instead we begin to see her falter, regress. It’s heart-wrenching. Ellie has never taken flying for granted. It’s the one thing she wished for, before it was ever dreamed possible, until the first moment she woke with wings of midnight and dawn. She worked hard and always took joy in it. Ensuring she’d never be a victim or weak.
To see her made weak, to watch her rush through her tasks knowing that it could be the last task she ever completes. It was the most difficult thing to read. Especially when you also see Raphael’s reaction to her regression. Elena is the beating heart of Raphael. He was…distant and powerful when we first meet him. He still is, but Elena brings out the human side of him. She makes him laugh and live and love.
His anguish and helplessness is something that I think that every single person has felt watching someone they love falter. It’s probably why it hit me so hard, too. I’ve stood by as healthy, young, beautiful, amazing people faltered and left.
While attempting to divert and survive this very dire, personal trauma – the world continues to spiral in the midst of cataclysmic events that pound at the Archangels and their territories. Madness spreads in China, monsoons in the deserts of Africa, a lava-filled sink-hole in the Cascades of North America. And always the threat of one of the oldest, and craziest, archangels alive
Even if they come out the other side, they’re likely going to be changed.
I read this book on tenterhooks. Even this re-read, I read and couldn’t stop my heartbreak. Couldn’t stop turning the pages to see it all. And then I hit the end.
It shocked me all over again. It’s such an uncertain place to end. I get it – now – because to tell more would have been to drag the story out. We got enough, and had to trust for the rest. It’s easier to understand after reading the next book in the series, Archangel’s War, but that was something that ate at me when I first read this book.