Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review: Angelborn by L. Penelope

3.5 stars

First of all, please take a moment to appreciate the beauty of that cover. Secondly, thanks to that random tweeter who introduced me to L. Penelope. And lastly, let's have a moment of silence to mourn the fact that Angelborn was a novella and not a full-length novel. Once again the format has left me feeling like I accidentally got an appetizer instead of a main meal. I'm still hungry and that's a testament to Angelborn, really. It was SO GOOD, but it all got wrapped up too quickly and I never really got to know the hero as much as I'd like and the epilogue was too short and now I want to cry.

Angelborn was a fresh combination of New Adult and Paranormal. Half-angel, half-human Caleb found his soulmate once, but she died before he could ensure they would be reborn together, and he was banished to the nether realm of the Wasteland. Now, by some miracle, he's escaped back to the human plane and to his reincarnated soulmate, Genna.

Being able to see and interact with the dead has defined Maia's whole life. She's managed to keep a relatively low profile at college, but then Caleb starts hanging around her roommate; sometimes Genna can see him, and sometimes he's invisible to everyone but Maia. Caleb's running out of time, and Maia's running from everything, including the boy who is clearly not meant for her.

Frankly, I found another character, the angel Helix, to have much more personality than Caleb, but I understand that he is an inherently amorphous character, having had his experience as a human constructed around his soul mate and then being stuck in limbo for 70 years. I loved Maia though; she was witty and tough, and yet all too vulnerable.

The world Penelope built for Angelborn was distinct, and I respected that it did not rely on a Judeo-Christian framework. The idea that angels harvest human souls because they act as power sources for their realm of Euphoria was neat, and, like many aspects, I wished there had been more detail.

Partly because Penelope's worldbuilding was so absorbing, my list of unanswered questions is massive. How did Caleb's angel dam meet his father? Why did Maia have the ability to see the dead? How did Wren, who brought Caleb back to the human realm, know how to escape the Wasteland? I get that a lot of these things are meant to be ambiguous and that the character themselves don't understand, but there are so many interesting titbits I want to know! Hopefully, Penelope chooses to expand this world, but even if she doesn't, she's a wonderful storyteller and I look forward to reading some longer works of hers.

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