Desert Isle Keeper
The continuing story of Raphael, the most powerful archangel in North America and Elena, his human-turned-angel consort, continues with the eleventh volume of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, Archangel’s Prophecy.
Elena, still getting used to her existence as a blossoming, winged immortal, is still dealing with the aftermath of the events of book ten, Archangel’s Viper. She starts experiencing murmurations of swarms of birds – first starlings, then white owls – and though she tries to convince herself it’s just a vision, when the earth splits open under her feet and reveals a molten pit which immediately swallows a formidable foe whole, she can’t deny that something out there is trying to tell her something. Her wings begin to drag and then fall apart immediately afterwards, her powers disappear one by one, and she experiences worsening dreams and a flu-like illness. The Legion notes that this is part of the Cascade, a chain of fearsome events presaged by prophets to cause an event that will lead to a fearsome cataclysm. A prophetic voice in Elena’s head warns her that her time is coming – “for one to live, the other must die.” Mental manipulations begin to affect her daily life, and her body, which should be invulnerable by now, begins to weaken further.
Raphael and the others try to protect her, but Elena still has a case involving a series of gruesome murders to solve, and another evolution toward immortality to endure. Why are there voices tormenting Elena? Are Elena’s dreams effecting reality or are they delusions ? Can she solve the murders with the help of Raphael and the other Hunters? Or will this be the case that finally takes her life?
Warning: this is not the place for a newbie to jump into the Guild Hunter series. The good news is that that’s the book’s sole flaw. If you like your whump, if you like your angst and violence mixed with tenderness, if you like steady world-building, then this is the series for you.
Elena continues to be a mix of stubborn and warm, strong and weak. Raphael is still her caring and cool-voiced Archangel. Their friends are dealing with the shifting sands around them and the chaos of the universe. Prophetic voices and scars continue to haunt Elena, but nothing in the intense, fated, will-kill-for-you destiny-love between them changes.
Devotees of the series likely don’t need me to tell them that this is a fine book. The mystery is absorbing, and the juxtaposition of the gritty crimes that Elena slogs through and the more mystical world she and Raphael inhabit provide a unique contrast. She’s tough and vulnerable at the same time. Minor characters float around them – two relationships go through tumult, and to reveal whose would spoil too much of the central plot. Baby angels are born, and readers are afforded further peeks into the parallel worlds of vampire and angelic existence.
Singh’s prose remains both lyrically descriptive and sparse, using words dropped carefully onto the page like rose petals – or drops of blood. There are some beautiful passages about the way immortals cannot stop time from passing around them – they are the center of a hurricane of their own making, so to speak, and others swirl around them as they stand, unaging in the center. There are deeper things going on in the story than the simple push-pull between Elena and Raphael’s attraction, and the reader will likely be lost in the world she evokes for them. The action scenes are sharp and brilliant, like carved diamonds embedded in black velvet.
Archangel’s Prophecy is another slice of sexy, violent, amusing and gritty storytelling. If you’ve been aching for another volume in the story of Elena and Raphael’s epic love story, you’ll be enchanted.