Sunday, September 24, 2017

Book review: Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh


Title: Archangel's Viper
Author: Nalini Singh
Publication date: 28th September 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Urban fantasy
Series: Guild Hunter
Source: Review copy from publisher

Description: Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

My thoughts: Long-time readers of the blog will know that I'm a big fan of Nalini Singh's books. Before I started the book, I wasn't sure how I felt about Venom as the hero: he's quite cold and scary in the other books, and has mostly had an 'off-stage' role so far. All of my doubts quickly vanished once he walked onto the page. Venom and Holly have a very prickly relationship. Venom has helped Holly through the most difficult time of her life, while she was adjusting to being a newly-made not-quite-vampire with powers that couldn't be anticipated. She trusts him, but she's very snarky and sarcastic with him. Of course, Venom gives as good as he gets, and I loved reading their bickering.

Venom has been away from New York City for the past two years. Now he's back, and Holly has to work with him again. But just after she's collected him from the airport, some (rather incompetent) mercenaries try to kidnap Holly. The two main arcs of the story are Holly & Venom investigating the reason for the attempted kidnapping, and trying to deal with Holly's growing, changing powers, which are developing quickly as the fragments of Uram's power left inside Holly begin to change.

I did feel like it was a much less complex plot than some of them in this series; the focus is much less on 'what's going on here and how do we fix it' and more on the 'how do we fix it' element alone. However, the romance between the two characters balances that out. They already know each other quite well by the time the story starts, so the fact that it develops into more of a romantic relationship as events in the book nudge them into closer proximity to each other felt believable. They're both interesting characters, and Holly is still dealing with a lot of personal problems that have resulted from her change. Venom presents a hard exterior to the world, but Holly manages to soften him up eventually.

Archangel's Viper answers some questions that have built over previous books, and fills in some gaps of what was happening in New York during the time Archangel's Heart takes place. It's an exciting plot, and throws some more light on Michaela, who has been (and remains) a rather enigmatic character so far. The relationship between Holly and Venom really steals the show, though, and I know that this is one of Nalini's books which I'll read again and again for that sparky, fun relationship. Overall I'm giving Archangel's Viper 8 stars.

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