Cover of Strange Angels (Strange Angels, Book 1)
I've been meaning to write this post for a while now. For the past few years (I think it's years…my memory isn't what it used to be), I've been following author Lilith Saintcrow's series Strange Angels. For the purposes of this series, she goes by the pseudonym Lili St. Crow in the young adult bracket. I like it. It's a great move considering she's already well-known with the adult paranormal audience for her Dante Valentine series. (Another series that I adore, but this review isn't about Dante.)
My first brush with Saintcrow's writing style was through Strange Angels. At first I was merely intrigued by the characters and their conflicts. Dru Anderson is vivid, complex, and interesting to read. The other supporting characters, Graves, Christophe, Ash, Shanks, Dibs, are just as well-rounded and exist to pull you further into the story of Dru's crazy life.
However, it came to a point where I was rereading the books that I had and waiting impatiently for the next installments. It's the closest I've ever come to Pottermania level fandom since, well, Deathly Hallows came out. And that was in 2007. I still can't believe that. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is: something about Saintcrow's young adult paranormal series has grabbed me in a vise grip.
It's like I've become stuck in the gaze of Christophe. I'm frozen, and after reading Defiance, which came out in April, I'm even more involved in the world Dru inhabits.
I don't think I'm doing the books justice. Hmm, how can I say it? It's one thing to read the books and love them, but it's quite another entirely to actually be able to use words to describe them accurately. For all I know, I'm completely mangling Saintcrow's work. Forgive me, madame.
Strange Angels is a tale of coming of age. It's a punch-in-the-gut type of book. And each of the consecutive books following it—Betrayals, Jealousy, Defiance, and soon to be published, Reckoning—are of the same vein. Our society is inundated with vampires and werewolves, I admit it, but Saintcrow takes a unique approach that I found refreshing. I'm trying not to be a spoiler, so forgive me if I sound overly vague.
Yes, there is romance, but thankthegods, Saintcrow doesn't bludgeon her younger readers with it. She introduces it naturally and keeps it flowing believably. And I cannot stress the believably part enough. The books deal with some dark stuff, it's true. Yet, it's never overdone or drug out endlessly for pages. The snappy pace of the novels is an additional emphasis on the flit and blur of the violence portrayed. It adds to the atmosphere—speed, darkness, fur, teeth, kicks, blood, pain, guns, flashes, light, death.
Images are vital in the books and blend with the witty dialogue into a miasma of well-ordered chaos.
Choices are a crucial theme, and something that all teenagers—who are the targeted audience—can relate to. Dru doesn't always make the best choices, but she makes the ones that she believes are right at the moment. Consequences do happen, but it's how she deals with them, with determination and grit, that makes a reader empathize with her. Certainly, she isn't perfect, but then again, neither am I or you for that matter.
Friendship. Courage. Resilience. Independence. Those are Dru's guiding lights. In Dru, you can see a character that is believable despite the knowledge that she couldn't possibly exist in real life. That is perhaps why I love the books so much. They're fun to read and trick me into falling in love with a fictional character (just try not to love Graves. I dare you.)
So there you have it. A series in review. I probably missed a few of the points I wanted to make because I got distracted off on a tangent, but hopefully I hit most of the main ones. I hope you give Strange Angels a try. You won't regret it.
Sidenote: Yes, there is some PG-13 language and if this were a movie trailer, I would have included that in the warning at the beginning. As it is, I wasn't overly bothered by the cussing and whatnot, but then again, I'm a fairly tolerant individual and if anything bothered me I just skipped over it. So if you are upset by the f-bomb and JC's, I suggest you either don't read them or suck it up. I replace those "naughty words" with happy words or phrases like "Oh schnitzel!" or "Fricassee!" But it's up to you, dear reader. The language itself lends the dialogue a more modern, dark, and troubled air, as it is meant to. Dru isn't on a picnic with her besties trying to catch fireflies in mason jars. She's fighting for her life. I can forgive her for cussing when someone tries to kill or seriously maim her. I'd cuss too.